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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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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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