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F1: Lewis Hamilton wins sixth Chinese GP; teammate Valtteri Bottas second

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SHANGHAI (AP) Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes won Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, beating teammate and pole sitter Valtteri Bottas with a quicker start from his No. 2 spot on the grid. It was his sixth victory in the Shanghai race.

Hamilton, the five-time and defending champion, led all 56 laps after a quick start for his 75th career victory. It also moved him into the lead in the overall standings after three races.

The next is in two weeks in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari was third ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari.

“The start is really what made the difference,” Hamilton said. “And after that it was kind of history.”

Mercedes has won the first three races – two for Hamilton and one for Bottas – despite some hints this season that Ferrari had more speed.

“You can see it is still very close between us all,” Hamilton said. “We have no idea how the next race is going to turn out.”

Bottas acknowledged he was done in by his slow start, with Hamilton racing ahead out of the first turn and then running out front the rest of the way.

`I think I lost it in the start, honestly,” Bottas said. “It’s a shame about the start. It’s small details, but it’s early days in the season. But we’ve done three perfect weekends so far.”

The 21-year-old Leclerc of Monaco was clearly upset early in the race when his Ferrari team ordered him to let Vettel pass. Vettel was in fourth at the time and Leclerc was third.

“Let Sebastian by. Let Sebastian by,” the team radio told Leclerc. He replied, clearly irritated: “But I’m pulling away” as he backed off and watched Vettel pass.

Ferrari team head Mattia Binotto told reporters earlier in the week that preference would be given to the four-time champion Vettel over Leclerc, at least early in the season.

“If there is any 50-50 situation where we need to take a decision, the advantage would have been given to Sebastian, simply because Sebastian has got most of the experience,” Binotto said.

Despite benefiting from team orders, Vettel was not thrilled with his finishing position.

“I’m happy to be on the podium,” he said. “It’s tough. We tried to stick with them. But we just couldn’t. They were too quick right from the start.”

Hamilton has 68 points after three races followed by Bottas (62), Verstappen (39), Vettel (37) and Leclerc (36).

The race was billed as the 1,000th in Formula One history dating from the first race in 1950 at the Silverstone circuit in England. That was won on May 13 by Guiseppe Farina in an Alfa Romeo.

O Canada! Why plaid has been rad for Pfaff Motorsports at Daytona

Courtesy of IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In Canada, plaid is beautiful.

In the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona, it’s also extremely fast.

Pfaff Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 R has been one of the most colorful sensations this January at Daytona International Speedway. The Toronto-based team has been a checkerboard blur of black and red in the GTD division, winning the pole position with Zacharie Robichon and leading the first four hours Saturday.

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But it also is turning heads with its stylish paint scheme and firesuits, all of which are in a classic plaid pattern.

The “Plaid Porsche” has a nice ring to it, and the team embraces the label even if its outfits might seem more appropriate for a grunge rock band or a lumberjack convention than an elite motorsports event.

“It’s great for people to call us that,” Robichon said. “You’re laughing about it, because it’s funny, but that means you’re talking about it.

“A lot of teams and car liveries, they all blend in together, and it’s a good way to stand out and a fun way to stand out. If you spend some time with the Pfaff Porsche team, you’d see a lot of guys are there and all happy to be there and everybody’s having fun. So having something that’s kind of funny and joyful associated with the team, I think is really good.”

The No. 9 team celebrated after Zacharie Robichon won the GTD pole at Daytona (courtesy of IMSA).

Car liveries typically offer a prominent display of a sponsor’s colors, and the team was able to incorporate the silver branding for new sponsor Motul on the lower rear of the car. “It was kind of best of both worlds,” Robichons aid. “They loved it because people talk about it.”

It’s the second consecutive year that the team has sported a plaid paint scheme at the Rolex 24. Last year, it took delivery on its car with only a week before the Roar before the Rolex test session.

The team was scrambling to assemble the car on Boxing Day in Canada (two days after Christmas) when Pfaff marketing director Laurance Yap was struck by a bolt of inspiration.

“All the crew guys at the shop, they were there over the holidays, and they were were wearing plaid because it’s just kind of what you do at home,” Robichon said. “In Canada it’s quite popular. I’ve got like six or seven plaid shirts, and I’m not embarrassed to say that. You go on a ski hill in the winter, and half the people, that’s what they’re wearing.

“It’s just something that a lot of people wear. We were trying to figure out what to do for the livery, and Lawrence said well, why don’t we just wrap the car in plaid. It was a joke, and we ran with it because we didn’t have any other ideas. And it was really only for Daytona, but everybody loved it, so we just had to stick with it for the whole year.

Zacharie Robichon

This year, Pfaff decided to up the game with plaid firesuits – and bringing the team in line with others that hail from the Great White North.

“The Canadian ski team has plaid jackets,” Robichon said. “Even curling in Canada, the guys wear plaid. If you’re not from Canada, you don’t necessarily make that association, but anybody who is Canadian immediately makes that connection, which is what we’re going for.”

Robichon, who hails from Ottawa and lives in Montreal, is the team’s only Canadian. But teammates Lars Kern (Germany), Dennis Olsen (Norway) and Patrick Pilet (France) have bought into the “plaid is rad” conceit.

“We adapted pretty quick,” Kern said. “We are not Canadian, but we feel like the Canadian national team, so it’s cool as a German to be on the Canadian national team.”

It would be even cooler for the Pfaff drivers if they can match their plaid garb with a Rolex watch.

Robichon liked the team’s chances after a strong week continued into Saturday’s green flag. After crashing and finishing 16th in class last year, he and his teammates managed to maintain pace and the lead through the first four hours.

“My job was to keep the car clean and out of trouble and play it safe with the traffic, and luckily we did that,” Robichon said after his first stint.

The No. 9 of Pfaff Motorsports started on pole in the GTD division of the 2020 Rolex 24.