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Supercars drivers, teams react to ‘crazy’ border run

Supercars drivers and teams have taken to social media to react to last night’s race to beat the New South Wales/Victoria border closure.

Tickford Racing, Erebus Motorsport, Walkinshaw Andretti United, Team 18 and Kelly Racing were all left scrambling to pack and flee Victoria yesterday by news that the border to New South Wales was closing for the first time in 100 years.

The closure, sparked by an ongoing coronavirus outbreak in Melbourne, would have made it all but impossible for the July 18-19 race at Sydney Motorsport Park to go ahead had staff and equipment not cleared the border by midnight last night.

All of the affected teams are now in New South Wales, with most set to bump in to SMP today and set up temporary bases.

Their return date is unknown, with the possibility crews will be in exile for as long as eight weeks to ensure the Darwin and Townsville rounds also go ahead.

Social media has been abuzz since the ambitious border run began, with teams and drivers detailing a “crazy” 24 hours.

Here is some of the reaction:

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F1 news: Gasly reveals he almost parked car that finished P7

Pierre Gasly has revealed that his AlphaTauri team almost gave up his points finish in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix when they asked him to pit his car after just 10 laps due to fears of a brake failure.

Gasly was running in 12th position when his brakes overheated just 10 laps in. After being instructed to pit, Gasly asked for one more lap to try and get the brake temperatures under control, which he managed to achieve. He went on to finish the race in seventh place.

“I mean, we were that close from retiring the car,” said Gasly. “The team asked me actually to box on lap 10, because my brake pedal was completely flat and the temperatures were going over the roof, and I just asked for one more lap.

“They told me ‘Okay, try’. I stayed out, things got better, and in the end we finished P7, so we were one lap [away] to box the car, and then next lap stayed out and managed to get a couple of points.”

After the scare, Gasly took advantage of retirements ahead of him – notably Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault and the Racing Point of Lance Stroll – as well as Alex Albon’s spin after his collision with Lewis Hamilton.

“I think if someone told us we’d be P7 on Sunday, we would have signed straight away at the beginning of the weekend,” added Gasly. “We knew it will be quite challenging against the Renault, McLaren and Force India, and in the end we just stayed out of trouble until the finish and had some good fighting and then, yeah, managed to get a couple of points.”

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Hamilton: No ‘bad blood’ with Albon after clash

Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton insists that there’s “no bad blood” with Alex Albon despite being penalised for the second time in three races for a clash with the Red Bull driver.

In Austria the pair made contact after the final safety car restart when Albon – who was on fresher tyres – made a bold overtaking move on the outside of Hamilton.

The incident closer mirrored one at the penultimate race of 2019 in Brazil, when Albon also tried to pass in the closing laps.

On both occasions Albon was sent spinning and lost a shot at a podium finish, and Hamilton was subsequently awarded a five-second penalty. In Austria that dropped the world champion from second to fourth place.

Hamilton insisted that the circumstances were different in both cases, and while he accepted responsibility for Brazil he thought last weekend’s contact was a racing incident.

“Well firstly I have a huge amount of respect for Alex,” he said. “I think he’s a super talented young man, and I don’t have any bad blood or bad feelings towards him whatsoever.

“In Brazil, he saw me coming straight to him. That was for me wholeheartedly my mistake and my problem and I tried to face it with dignity. I think today was, in my opinion a racing incident.

“He was on a much better tyre. I entered the corner committed in blocking – obviously I was defending the position. I took the corner as normal, I had quite a lot of lock on to get round the corner.

“The track drops away when you go through that corner. So a lot of people understeer through there. However, I didn’t get back on the power, I just continued to decrease in my speed, and he jumped on the power, being that he had so much grip.

“He still had like a car’s width to the left of him. And ultimately, we touched. I think it’s unfortunate that we collided, and I wouldn’t want to ever collide with anybody.

“I do think it was unfortunate, but I have to respect the decision that the stewards ended up taking, there’s nothing you can say otherwise about it.”

Hamilton pointed out that in his initial TV comments he thought he might be to blame, but changed his mind on viewing a replay,

“Before I’d seen the incident I did apologise to Alex, in an interview. Just because in the heat of the moment, you don’t always have the viewpoints of everything, and I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, and obviously then I went to watch the replay and I think it was a racing incident, as I said.”

FIA race director Michael Masi said that the stewards decreed that the clash was a clear case of causing a collision.

“From what the stewards saw and having looked at it, Alex obviously had some momentum around the outside,” said Masi. “The contact point, from what I’ve understood from their explanation, Lewis’s front left to Alex’s rear right, was why they did not deem that a racing incident.

“They felt that Alex was effectively on the edge of the track, give or take, and had completed the overtaking manoeuvre. For them there wasn’t anything more to add. It was a quite simple driving infringement for causing a collision.”

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NASCAR news: President Donald Trump calls out Bubba Wallace

Monday morning, President Donald Trump posted a series of tweets, one of which was aimed at NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace.







Wallace has taken a stand in recent weeks as the Cup Series’ only African-American driver, calling for the Confederate flag ban and running a Black Lives Matter paint scheme at Martinsville Speedway.

At Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR took immediate action after a crew member reported finding a noose in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall Sunday. This had followed protests outside the track regarding the sport’s decision to ban the Confederate flag. Wallace was told of the incident later by NASCAR President Steve Phelps and never saw the noose himself. 

Before the race, which was postponed to Monday due to inclement weather, every driver and most crew members pushed Wallace’s Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 car to the end of pit lane and stood with him in solidarity. 

The FBI was brought in, which later determined the object in question to be a garage door pull down rope fashioned in the shape of a noose, and that it had been there since October, 2019. NASCAR says no other garage door pull down rope was fashioned in this way, and they checked all 1,648 garages at each of the 20 tracks on the circuit.

The noose found in the No. 43 garage

Photo by: NASCAR Media

“As I mentioned on Tuesday, given the facts presented to us, we would have pursued this with the same sense of urgency and purpose,” Phelps said following the investigation. “Upon learning of and seeing the noose, our initial reaction was to protect our driver.”

Despite this, over two weeks later, United States President Donald Trump felt compelled to tweet at Wallace, tagging him and suggesting the driver should apologize. He referred to the incident as “another hoax” and made the baseless claim that NASCAR’s TV ratings are the lowest they’ve ever been following the sport’s decision to ban the Confederate flag. This is unequivocally false. 

NASCAR has yet to respond, but Richard Childress Racing driver and two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick has, tweeting: “We don’t need an apology. We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support.” 

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Helmut Marko calls for penalty rethink after Hamilton P4

Causing a collision that cost Alex Albon a podium, Helmut Marko feels it was wrong that Lewis Hamilton still got to finish inside the points.

Hamilton was running second in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix but was under threat from Albon late in the race.

The Red Bull driver opted to pit behind the second Safety Car, coming out on fresh soft tyres.

With the third Safety Car deployed moments after the second had pitted when Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo lost a wheel, Albon’s tyres were still fresh.

He was looking good for a podium, if not even a charge for the victory.

Albon attacked Hamilton at the restart and drew alongside him around the outside of Turn 4.

The Thai-British driver edge slightly ahead only for there to be contact between the two; Albon’s rear right wheel to Hamilton’s front left.

Replay shows @alex_albon who was ahead making contact with @LewisHamilton. Left front of the Mercedes meets the right rear of the Red Bull, spinning Albon into the gravel.#F1 #AustrianGP pic.twitter.com/ANn5OSTnDk

— Peter Leung (@BaronVonClutch) July 5, 2020

The contact sent Albon into a spin and down towards the back of the field.

He would retire soon after with an electrical issue.

Hamilton was subsequently handed a five-second time penalty that meant even though he crossed the line in second place, he dropped to fourth in the official classification.

Marko feels that is wrong.

Speedweek.com quotes the Red Bull advisor as having told ORF: “If someone is so obviously guilty and then only gets a time penalty of five seconds and thereby remains in the points, then that’s simply not fair.

“In relation to what he does to what he loses, in the end these were only a few places.

“We had a similar situation in Brazil in 2019. It was also about second place. And Hamilton also gave Alex a ramming blow back then.

“I think it’s time to rethink this whole system!”

Hamilton and Albon had a similar collision at last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix, one that also cost Albon a podium finish.

Marko added: “Whether he finishes second or fourth, what’s the big difference? But our race, he completely ruined it.”

Albon wasn’t the only Red Bull driver in trouble on Sunday at the Red Bull Ring with Max Verstappen retiring when his RB16 suffered an electrical issue.

He was up in second place when he suddenly slowed, retiring his car in the pits.

“I don’t know what was going on,” said Marko. “We assume it has something to do with electronics, but we don’t know the details yet.

“Until then, Max Verstappen’s speed had been great, he was able to handle the medium tyres better than expected.

“We had two chances to get top places.

“We would have been on the podium with ease.”

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Norris has ‘made next step’ as a driver – McLaren

McLaren believes Lando Norris’ charge to third place in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix proves he has “made the next step” as a driver.

Norris scored his first F1 podium at the Red Bull Ring after a late charge saw him pass Sergio Perez before making up the time to cash in on Lewis Hamilton’s five-second penalty.

It saw Norris become the third-youngest podium finisher in F1 history, capping off an impressive weekend that saw him qualify fourth and spend much of the race leading the midfield runners.

McLaren F1 boss Andreas Seidl said it was proof of the advancements Norris had made entering his second season on the grid.

“For a driver it is important to create this momentum for himself as it gives him the confidence he needs to pull it off when it matters in qualifying and the race,” Seidl said.

“Lando was simply building it up as he started well last year. You could see that last year in his race starts when he started carefully at the beginning, and then once he had a bit of confidence and races under his belt, he was there.

“With the work he has done together with his team over the winter, I think he simply made the next step.

“I am very happy, very happy with the team, so we can have some great results with him in the future.”

The final lap saw Norris gain 0.8 seconds on Hamilton by setting the fastest lap of the race, allowing him to snare third by less than two tenths of a second in the final classification.

On-board footage of Norris’ final lap has gone viral on social media in the aftermath of the race, with his race engineer instructing him when to use the overtake button before celebrating the result once Hamilton’s penalty was confirmed.

“At some point we all thought we missed the podium when [Charles] Leclerc went through, but obviously we were communicating the gaps to Lando about Lewis,” Seidl explained.

“Then when he got his penalty, Lando was prepared for his last laps in terms of getting the maximum of everything that the car had.

“[For] Lando to pull it off like that is impressive, and if you look now at the whole weekend, it is impressive what Lando has done. It also shows that as we expected from him, he developed, or made the next step as a driver, which you would also expect after your rookie season in Formula 1.

“He did very well in analysing last year’s season and looking into how he could be even better prepared going into this next season. He grew up in terms of personality and character.

“How he was approaching the first race of the season, I was very impressed. I am sure we will have a lot more fun with him in the future.”

Speaking about his final lap, Norris said: “The pace was really nice in clean air. The Ferraris were quicker than us, the Racing Points were quicker than us, especially on the race pace.

“We were very fast yesterday but the race pace they were for sure quicker. They have a nicer car to drive, a bit more downforce and that helps in the race with the tyre degradation.

“It was very difficult but I think when I had the clear air, and I kept the tyres in a good condition, then I could really lean on it and the car came alive a bit.

“We turned up the power a little bit and I put in some really nice laps. I’m still out of breath from trying so much to finish where I did.”

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How Bottas won F1’s survival of the fittest in Austria

After a 217-day wait, Formula 1 returned at the Red Bull Ring with a thriller that reminded everybody what they had been missing during the COVID-enforced hiatus. Mercedes crossed the line 1-2, but that hardly told the whole story

Despite all that was different about the 2020 Formula 1 season opener given the major changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic, there were some reassuringly familiar themes in an action-packed Austrian Grand Prix.

So much happened in the 71-lap race at the Red Bull Ring that it emphasised again the tragedy of the pandemic, with spectators barred from attending an event that would have sent them into raptures multiple times. There was the political wrangling over the pre-season controversies ahead of the race – Red Bull’s protest of Mercedes’ dual-axis steering in particular – and a last-minute grid penalty for the reigning world champion after previously uncovered footage proved Lewis Hamilton had impinged the rules around yellow flags in the closing moments of qualifying.

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Supercars border race made official

Supercars has confirmed that team personnel and drivers based in Victoria will flee the state by midnight tonight ahead of a New South Wales border closure.

The ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne has led to the NSW state government closing its border to the south, with people from the Victorian capital barred from midnight tonight, and the rest of the state from midnight tomorrow. 

As first reported by Motorsport.com, news of the border closure led to Melbourne-based teams making plans to flee the state before the closure, to ensure the upcoming Sydney Motorsport Park round can go ahead on July 18-19. 

Those plans are now well advanced, with Supercars confirming the relocation is underway and that SMP will serve as a hub, of sorts. 

“Supercars has been closely monitoring the situation in Victoria and teams had been preparing to bring forward travel dates in advance of today’s announcement,” said Supercars CEO Sean Seamer. 

“We appreciate their willingness to play their part, to ensure we protect the health and wellbeing of Supercars and the wider community.

“We remain agile and continue to work with all government stakeholders, relevant medical officials and teams on ensuring we race in a safe and compliant way.”

The SMP garages will be available from tonight onwards, although it appears getting to Albury, just on the NSW side of the border, by midnight will be the main priority. 

Motorsport.com understands a number of crew and drivers have already flown to Sydney.

Kelly Racing, meanwhile, is headed to Mildura and will be based on the Kelly family farm before heading to SMP closer to the event. 

Dunlop has sent its tyre allocation to Sydney and is believed to have a load of Super2 tyres ready as well.

There had been talk the round could be moved forward to this weekend, however it will go ahead as scheduled on the 18th and 19th.

There’s still no official word on support categories, however there is still hope the second-tier series may go ahead in Sydney as planned. 

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Lewis Hamilton: No bad blood or bad feelings towards Albon

Lewis Hamilton insists he has no hard feelings towards Alex Albon despite Sunday’s clash costing him second place at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Restarting the grand prix after a third Safety Car at the Austrian GP, Hamilton was in second place and chasing his team-mate Valtteri Bottas for the win.

Albon was up to third and on new soft tyres.

The Red Bull racer attacked Hamilton for the position, trying to make his move around the outside of Turn 4.

The two touched, Albon’s rear right against Hamilton’s front right.

It's Brazil 2019 all over again as Hamilton hits Albon off from a certain P2 at the very least! 😲

WOW. #AustrianGP pic.twitter.com/nZLjHJFtRm

— iGP Manager (@iGPManager) July 5, 2020

The contact pitched Albon into a spin similar to their 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix incident, and, similar to Brazil, it cost the Red Bull driver a podium.

In keeping with the theme, the stewards, as they had done at Interlagos, slapped Hamilton with a five-second time penalty for causing a collision.

Although the Brit crossed the line in second place, he dropped to fourth in the official classification.

Hamilton maintains that, unlike Brazil, this was a racing incident.

“First of all I have a huge amount of respect for Alex — he’s a super talented young man, I don’t have any bad blood or bad feelings towards him whatsoever,” the World Champ told Racer.

“In Brazil you saw I came straight to him, that was wholeheartedly my mistake and my problem and tried to face it with dignity.

“I think today was in my opinion a racing incident.

“He was on a much better tyre, I entered the corner, committed in blocking, but obviously I was defending the position.

“I took the corner as normal, I had quite a lot of lock on to get around the corner.

“The track drops away as you go through the corner so a lot of people understeer through there; however I didn’t get on the power, I needed to decrease my speed, and he jumped on the power.

“He still had like a car’s width to the left of him and ultimately we touched.

“I think it’s unfortunate that we collided — I wouldn’t want to ever collide with anybody.

“But I have to respect the decision the stewards did take because I don’t think you can say otherwise about it.

Hamilton revealed he has already apologised to Albon for the incident, but insists it was nothing more than a “racing” one.

He added: “I did apologise, before I’d seen the incident I’d apologised to Alex in an interview just because in the heat of the moment you don’t always have the viewpoints of everything and I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, and then I watched the replay and I think it was a racing incident as I said.”

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Supercars teams preparing for ambitious border run

Melbourne-based Supercars team may face an ambitious border run into New South Wales before new restrictions begin at midnight.

Getting Victorian teams and drivers across the border into New South Wales by tonight is one option currently being assessed by Supercars and the affected teams, as a way to ensure the Sydney Motorsport Park round can go ahead on July 18-19.

Motorsport.com understands that basic preparations are underway at at least some of the Melbourne teams should that plan be enacted.

Tickford Racing, Erebus Motorsport, Walkinshaw Andretti United, Team 18 and Kelly Racing, as well as Brad Jones Racing drivers Nick Percat and Todd Hazelwood, are all affected by the historic closing of the border between Victoria and New South Wales.

The border closure will technically come into effect from midnight Tuesday, however New South Wales has now classified all of Melbourne as a ‘hot spot’ and will ban access to anyone from the Victorian capital from midnight tonight.

Melbourne recorded 127 new cases of COVID-19 today, its highest daily total since the pandemic began.

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