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F1 2017 driver review: Felipe Massa

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Felipe Massa

Team: Williams
Car No.: 19
Races: 19
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P6 (Australia, Bahrain)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 43
Championship Position: 11th

Hopes were high for Felipe Massa’s bonus season in Formula 1, only made possible by Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement and Valtteri Bottas’ subsequent move to Mercedes. Yet it failed to offer the kind of form that could secure the Brazilian a longer future in the series.

Massa made his love of the new-style cars for 2017 known through pre-season, and Williams made a good start to the year as he led the midfield runners by finishing sixth in Australia. After repeating the result in Bahrain, it was looking like Massa could become a serious force in the midfield fight.

But those races proved to be the high point of his season. Points were picked up in small doses leading up to the summer break, finishing no higher than ninth, although a possible podium – and maybe even a victory – was lost in Baku after a suspension failure that could have reshaped Massa’s season.

Instead it was Lance Stroll who took the plaudits for hitting the podium in Baku, with Massa failing to record a result better than P8 until the penultimate race of the year on home soil in Brazil.

But it was at Interlagos we were treated to a display of Massa at his best. A perfect drive saw him beat former Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso in a race-long fight and take P7, acting as a solid sign-off to his home fans.

While it was far from being the season Massa wanted to say goodbye with, he was nevertheless ready to say goodbye this time around – something he wasn’t 12 months ago. It proved to be a classy end to a classy F1 career.

Season High: Saying goodbye to Brazil with a perfect drive to P7.

Season Low: Losing a possible podium or victory in Baku due to a suspension failure.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.