Charles Leclerc blamed himself and apologised to Ferrari on Saturday after qualifying fourth on the grid for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Monegasque driver, who is set to take a 10-place penalty after taking a new engine, said he had made a mistake during his best lap, which had cost him three-tenths of a second, and wrecked his hopes of taking pole.
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Next month’s Darwin Triple Crown will see crowds return to Supercars for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Australian shores.
The event at Hidden Valley Raceway will take place across two days with 4500 tickets available per day and a dedicated COVID safety plan in place after approval from the Northern Territory government.
Fans from the NT who had already purchased their tickets will have first priority to new tickets from 9:15am on June 30, with sale to the general public opening at 9am on July 2. Tickets are $35 for a one-day pass and $65 for access to both days.
“Territorians love their motorsports and we are pleased to host the first Supercars event with
crowds here in Darwin,” Laruen Moss, NT Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture, said.
The Supercars season finally resumed last weekend, with Ford flyer Scott McLaughlin making it three wins from five starts after a commanding win from pole.
The two-time defending champion did it easy on Sunday for his 46th career victory in the final race of the first Supercars round since February.
After winning Saturday’s 32-lap race at Sydney Motorsport Park and a third-place finish earlier on Sunday, McLaughlin was able to extend his championship lead. Tickford’s Lee Holdsworth made it up a Ford one-two with an impressive drive after qualifying fourth-fastest.
Seven-time champion Jamie Whincup completed a consistent round with his third podium finish of the Sydney Supersprint.
McLaughlin claims win
Holden pair David Reynolds and Mark Winterbottom rounded out the top-five. McLaughlin’s Shell V-Power teammate Fabian Coulthard endured a horror afternoon, failing to finish after some late-race troubles.
Earlier, Holden dark horse Nick Percat won his first Supercars race since 2016 by eclipsing Whincup in the seven-times series champion’s 500th career start. Percat started the first of two Sunday races at Sydney Motorsport Park from sixth but flew past Whincup, who led from pole until lap 23. It was the 31-year-old Brad Jones Racing driver’s third career victory from his 200th start and first since an Adelaide 500 triumph four years ago.
On Saturday, McLaughlin claimed the first Supercars race since February by holding off Holden rival Shane van Gisbergen in a thrilling climax.
The owner of a North Carolina racetrack said he has faced death threats, lost employees and seen “all but two” of his sponsors evaporate amid the backlash over his social media post invoking the noose found in the garage stall of Black NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace.
Mike Fulp, who owns the half-mile, dirt track 311 Speedway in Stokes County, told the News & Record he knew his troubles from what he described as a joke were self-inflicted.
Fulp said he’s been getting death threats and received messages threatening his family.
“My employees got harassed,” he said. “I had seven employees quit.”
The Greensboro newspaper reported Fulp cancelled a “Stand for America” event planned for Saturday for safety reasons but plans to reopen 311 Speedway, perhaps as soon as next Saturday, and follow the state’s coronavirus guidelines.
He said he wants “low-profile” racing and he plans to stay off social media.
Fulp said he is not a racist in an interview in which the newspaper reported he broke down in tears and sobbed.
It comes after the FBI released a statement last week concluding the rope had been in the garage since October 2019.
Wallace defended his reaction to the discovery of the “noose” after the findings were handed down.
“From the evidence that we have — that I have, it’s a straight-up noose,” said Wallace during an appearance with Don Lemon on CNN.
“The image that I have, and I have seen, of what was hanging in my garage is not a garage pull … we’ve raced out of hundreds of garages that never had garage pulls like that,” Wallace said.
“Whether someone tied it in 2019 … It wasn’t directed at me,” Wallace went on, “but it was a noose.”
More than anything, Wallace was disappointed people used the incident to attack his character.
“I’m p*ssed. I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and person that I am and my integrity,” Wallace said.
“They’re not stealing that away from me, but they’re just trying to test that.”
Former Formula One CEO Bernie Eccleston has doubled down on ugly and unpopular comments from earlier this week where he said, “In lots of cases, black people are more racist than what white people are”.
The comments drew widespread condemnation from the F1 world, with the organisation and six-time champion Lewis Hamilton taking aim at the comments.
The F1 were quick to hit back at Ecclestone’s comments, calling for unity to “tackle racism and inequality,” and that the organisation “completely disagree” with the comments.
Speaking with CNN Sport, the 89-year-old Ecclestone said he hadn’t noticed it over the years, and was “surprised” to hear Lewis Hamilton had been affected by racism in the sport.
“I’m surprised that it concerns him,” Ecclestone said.
“I’m really unhappy if he took it seriously. I never thought he did. I didn’t think it affected him.”
Hamilton has been outspoken during the Black Lives Matter protests, and has been photographed protesting in Hyde Park.
After Ecclestone’s comments came to light, Hamilton hit back in his Instagram Stories, saying the comments made him understand why racism hasn’t been addressed during his career.
Hamilton has been targeted at F1 tracks in the past with the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix seeing fans in blackface taunt the young star over his rivalry with Fernando Alonso.
“So sad and disappointing to read these comments,” Hamilton wrote.
“Bernie is out of the sport and a different generations, but this is exactly what is wrong – ignorant and uneducated comments which show us how far we as a society need to go before real equality can happen.
“It makes complete sense to me now that nothing was said or done to make our sport more diverse or to address the racial abuse I received throughout my career.
“If someone who has run the sport for decades has such a lack of understanding of the deep rooted issues we as black people deal with every day, how can we expect all the people who work under him to understand. It starts at the top.
“Now the time has come for change. I will not stop pushing to create an inclusive future for our sport with equal opportunity for all, to create a world that provides equal opportunity for minorities. I will continue to use my voice to represent those that don‘t have one, and to speak for those who are under-represented to provide an opportunity to have a chance in our sport.”
But Ecclestrone has doubled down in a new interview with the Mail on Sunday, insisting he’s not a racist and labelling protests as being “suddenly fashionable to talk about diversity”.
“I am not anti black people. Quite the opposite. I have always been very much in favour,” Ecclestrone said.
“In fact, Lewis’s dad wanted to go into business with me. He made some nice rowing machines. I would never even have considered it if I had been anti-black. If the project had been right, I would have done it.
“Over the years, I have met a lot of white people I didn’t like, but never a black person I didn’t like.
“I’ve been mugged a couple of times, once by three black guys. I ended up in hospital, but even after that I was never against anyone who was black.
“I don’t think of Lewis as black or anything else. He’s just Lewis to me.
“If a black person or a white person gets turned down for a job you have to ask why. Was it because of their skin colour, or was it because they weren’t up to the job? That is what I was saying.
“And then people go on these marches, organised by quasi-Marxists who want to bring down the police, which would be a disaster for the country.
“If you asked most of them what exactly they were protesting about they probably wouldn’t know.”
Ecclestone then also compared skin colour to height, arguing, “It’s not my fault I am white, or that I am a little shorter than the next man.”
He also defended his record, having given Willy T. Ribbs a test drive in January 1986 when he owned Brabham-BMW, while adding he had employed other black people in the past.
“When I lost my driving licence, I had a black driver, not because he was black, but because I didn’t care whether he was black or white,” Ecclestone said.
“Now it’s suddenly fashionable to talk about diversity.”