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F1: Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2 in Spain

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The Spanish Grand Prix was one of pure dominance for Mercedes AMG Petronas.

After Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas locked out the front row, with Hamilton scoring the pole, the two rolled to a 1-2 for Mercedes on race day, as the team returned to its dominant self after a somewhat slow start to the 2018 season.

Taking advantage of a one-stop strategy, Hamilton was never under genuine threat at any point and made things look easy out front.

Bottas, meanwhile, had to regain P2 after losing out to Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel on the start, with Vettel getting ahead and into second.

Bottas got his chance under a Virtual Safety Car on Lap 42 – Sahara Force India’s Esteban Ocon stopped on track with a mechanical problem – as Ferrari elected to pit Vettel a second time to take on new Medium compound Pirellis.

The stop moved Bottas back into second, and elevated Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen to third, with Vettel dropping to fourth after a slow stop.

When racing resumed, Vettel simply could not muster enough of a challenge to get back into a podium position, this despite Verstappen suffering front wing damage after contact with Williams Martini Racing’s Lance Stroll under the VSC.

In the end, Verstappen rounded out the podium behind Hamilton and Bottas, with Vettel consigned to fourth on a day that Ferrari might be disappointed with – teammate Kimi Raikkonen dropped out early with power unit troubles on Lap 25.

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo drove a quiet race to finish fifth. Haas F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen finished sixth, while the Spanish crowd got a nice showing from Renault Sport F1 Team’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and McLaren F1 Team’s Fernando Alonso, with the two Spaniards finishing seventh and eighth.

Sergio Perez finished ninth for Force India, while Alfa Romeo Sauber’s Charles Leclerc scored points for the second consecutive race, finishing tenth.

Of note, a number of cars retired due to an opening lap pileup, sparked by Haas driver Romain Grosjean drifting wide in Turn 3 and spinning across the track. He collected Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, with all three dropping out with crash damage.

The win increases Hamilton’s lead in the driver’s championship to 17 points over Vettel (95 to 78). Bottas ranks third with 58 points.

Results from the Spanish Grand Prix are below. The next event for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is the Monaco Grand Prix on May 24-27.

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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.