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Marko: New Verstappen contract ‘far from’ Hamilton, Vettel deals

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Red Bull Formula 1 advisor Helmut Marko has hit back at comments from Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda about Max Verstappen’s recently-signed contract, saying it is “far from” the worth of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel’s deals.

Verstappen put pen to paper on a new three-year deal at Red Bull in October, surprising the F1 paddock amid links to seats with Mercedes and Ferrari for 2019.

The deal for the youngest race winner in the sport’s history was rumored to be one of the most lucrative in F1, with Lauda jibing that Mercedes could have saved Red Bull some money by holding talks with Verstappen.

“We never offered [Verstappen] a contract,” Lauda told Red Bull’s in-house TV channel, Servus TV.

“I have a good relationship with Helmut, we usually share an airplane. But when he is getting stubborn, and thinks that something could be taken away from him, he immediately signs a contract. He went to Austin with [Verstappen’s] father and signed.

“If we had talked before, you would have saved money. We never talked to him about money.”

Marko responded by saying Mercedes was powerless to reject four-time champion Hamilton’s demands ahead of upcoming talks, and stressed Verstappen’s contract was not in the same realm.

“Thanks for trying to help us save money. We can’t help you, you have no alternative for Hamilton, you have to pay him what he demands,” Marko said.

“We guaranteed that our most important people are committed until 2020 and all this convinced him.

“Of course, he used the chance to get a salary rise, it’s within reason.

“But he’s far from Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel. When he wins championships he can reach that level.”

Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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