F1’s pandemic pause might extend Lewis Hamilton’s career ‘2 to 3 years’

Lewis Hamilton driving career
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SILVERSTONE, England — The pandemic-enforced break from Formula One could prolong the driving career of Lewis Hamilton.

“The COVID-19 lockdown, whilst it was a negative, in some ways it gave a lot of life, a lot of energy to focus on some other things,” Hamilton, 35, said Thursday, “and that time off was a bit of breathing space, and provided a bit of energy to perhaps go longer.”

How much longer for the six-time world champion, who is in his 14th season?

“Ultimately I want to be able to perform at the level I am right now but there is a point at which the physicality and the mental side can tail off,” he said. “I’ve no divine right to be here. My goal is to continue to deliver for as long as I can. So I do see myself going for at least another two or three years.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes contract is due to expire in five months.

“I want to earn my position here,” Hamilton said, “and I feel like every year that is not a given just because I’ve world championships under my belt.”

He heads into the British Grand Prix on Sunday as the favorite to win at his home circuit of Silverstone for a seventh time but for the first time without any fans there to cheer him because of the pandemic. The race is the fourth in a championship that should have begun in March. The coronavirus has hit the Silverstone race with Sergio Perez forced out after testing positive on Thursday.

The bid by Lewis Hamilton for a record-equalling seventh world championship in his driving career – to match Michael Schumacher – has been playing out against the backdrop of his personal fight against racism.

After dominating the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier this month, Hamilton then accused Grand Prix Drivers’ Association director Romain Grosjean of failing to convince the grid to be united in kneeling before the race.

Grosjean spoke to Hamilton for 45 minutes Tuesday, saying that he wanted to provide a voice for as many as eight drivers who were opposed to the anti-racism stance. But he also apologized to Hamilton for indicating that it might have been the wrong call.

“Romain originally reached out to me and we had a great conversation,” Hamilton said. “We learned we had more in common than we perhaps thought. He is clearly a caring person. It’s not easy for anybody to admit they’re wrong. And that’s a great first step.

“We’re really working towards the same end goal so I really appreciate that from Romain. And that’s really what it is going to take from all of us; open up our minds, don’t put barriers up, don’t be defensive, be open-minded. Acknowledging that there is an issue is sometimes the first step and then work towards making it better.”

Hamilton also has been in dialogue with F1 chairman Chase Carey and FIA president Jean Todt this week. The pit lane will open 10 minutes earlier than normal on Sunday to allow the drivers time for a more organized demonstration against racism ahead of the race.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc are among those drivers who have stood rather than taking a knee.

“Everybody has their own way of expressing it,” Verstappen said. “We are all united in fighting racism and that is the most important thing. It is not about taking a knee or not taking a knee because that is not going to solve the issue.”

IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
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Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):


Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta


Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans