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Hamilton says F1 should level playing field between teams

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MONTREAL (AP) Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton believes returning to an old-school style of racing would solve Formula One’s ongoing problem with parity.

The four-time world champ and current leader in the standings said Thursday the vast separation between the top teams and the lower teams is hurting the sport. Mercedes has won all six races this season and will look to make it seven in a row at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday.

“People do continue to comment that it’s boring,” Hamilton said of the inequality between teams. “Ferrari wins for a period of time, McLaren wins for a period of time, Mercedes, Red Bull. How you stop that?

“If I had a choice, I would go back to V12, naturally aspirated engines, manual gear boxes. I would make it harder for the drivers. Take away all these big runoff areas that you have everywhere. You should not have steering assist. Or if you have steering assist, you have to keep it low. I like having it low so it’s harder for me.”

“You should be so physically exhausted after a race,” he added. “It should be so exhausting, like a marathon. I could probably do two or three races in a row, and Formula One should not be like that.”

A win for Hamilton this weekend would tie Michael Schumacher’s record for most victories at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with seven.

The 34-year-old has already taken four checkered flags this year. Teammate Valterri Bottas won the other two races. Mercedes leads the constructor standings with 257 points, nearly twice as many as second-place team Ferrari, which has 139 points.

Only six drivers from three teams have finished in the top five this season: Mercedes’ Hamilton and Bottas, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly. No other team has come close to the podium.

The disparity between teams goes well beyond this year. Mercedes has won the last five F1 championships while Red Bull won the previous four.

Ahead of his hometown race, Montreal native Lance Stroll echoed Hamilton’s sentiments.

“Look at the NHL, the NFL, the NBA, the teams are so close,” the 20-year-old Stroll told The Canadian Press. “That’s because it’s capped properly, it’s managed properly. That allows for exciting competitions. It would be great to see the same thing in Formula One. Instead of 2 seconds between the field, it comes down to tenths. That would really spice things up.”

Stroll is one of the drivers usually stuck in the middle of the pack, well behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. Stroll ranks 16th in the standings with four points from his first six races. He finished ninth in Australia and Azerbaijan. Stroll’s last two races were challenging though. He collided with Lando Norris in Barcelona and was forced to retire after 44 laps. Two weeks ago in Monaco, he finished 16th.

“The last couple of events haven’t suited our car,” said Stroll, the first Canadian on the grid since Jacques Villeneuve. “There are things I need to work on too. It’s a new car for me. We want to be more consistently in the points and fighting in the front.”

A year ago, Stroll crashed out of Canadian Grand Prix on the very first lap after colliding with Brendon Hartley of Toro Rosso.

“It’s got a lot of character,” said Stroll of the track. “You’re riding the curves. There’s not a lot of room for error. Long straights that allow for good overtaking. As a driver, that makes the weekend very exciting. It’s a proper race. It’s great for the fans.”

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Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

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“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).