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Lando Norris angry with Lance Stroll after crash at Portuguese GP

Lando Norris has delivered a scathing assessment of Lance Stroll after their coming together at the Portuguese GP, insisting the Racing Point driver “crashes a lot” and vowing to “stay away” from him in future races.

Stroll and Norris made contact on Lap 17 when the Canadian attempted a risky move around the outside into Turn One, turning into his midfield rival and spinning off the track. He received a five-second penalty for the incident, and later picked up another for track limits before retiring the car.

  • Brundle: Hamilton’s record stands with any in sport

Norris also picked up damage, and eventually finished 13th and outside the points in the McLaren. The young Briton criticised Stroll, who also collided into Verstappen at the same corner during Friday practice at Portimao, and claimed he “doesn’t learn from anything he does”.

“I don’t know what he was doing really,” said Norris. “He went to the left which I was quite surprised by, when he very easily could have gone to the inside. I was easily halfway alongside and he just turned in.

“He obviously didn’t learn from Friday but he doesn’t seem to learn from anything he does. It happens a lot with him, so I just need to stay away.”

A frustrated Norris added: “It wasn’t a nice battle. I don’t know what I’m meant to say… he crashes a lot.

“I don’t know if he can’t see properly in the right side or something. He ruined his own race, he ruined my race, it was his fault.”

Norris believes McLaren could have scored “good points” on Sunday – Carlos Sainz was sixth in the other car – and insisted Stroll “didn’t need to risk what he did” as he was “much quicker” in what was a battle for seventh.

“I don’t know why he tried to be a hero,” he stated.

Speaking to Sky F1 immediately after his race DNF, Stroll said he hadn’t seen the replay but that he felt Norris’ positioning was “a bit awkward”. Team boss Otmar Szafnauer also felt Stroll’s penalty was harsh.

“I just went around the outside,” said Stroll. “It was a bit awkward as he was kind of in the middle of the track and I wasn’t sure if he was going to go to the inside or stay on the line.”

He continued: “I had to make a split-second decision and I was on the outside over the kerb. From there I just turned into the corner and I guess there wasn’t enough room for both of us, so that was that.”

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Lewis Hamilton ‘humbled’ by F1 wins record and explains why GP build-ups still ‘terrifying’

Lewis Hamilton said he felt “very humbled” about becoming the F1 driver with the most victories of all time and explained that, despite his record-breaking success, build-ups to race days remained “terrifying”.

The Englishman is now out on his own at the head of the sport’s all-time winners’ table after his 92nd in a dominant showing at the Portuguese GP, brilliantly recovering from losing ground in the early laps to win by almost half a minute.

  • Race report: Hamilton dominates to clinch all-time record
  • How Hamilton broke Schumacher’s ‘untouchable’ wins record

In an absorbing and revealing post-race interview with Sky Sports F1 – which can be viewed in full in the video above – Hamilton said he was grateful for the historic success.

“I feel fantastic. Very humbled,” said Hamilton, who had tied Michael Schumacher’s long-standing mark of 91 wins at the previous race in Germany.

“Very difficult to explain the feeling. I feel young, I feel energised. And, of course, I’m very grateful. I’m constantly thinking of the guys I’m working with.”

Hamilton was 22 years old and in just the seventh race of his rookie season of F1 when he won for the first time at the 2007 Canadian GP, with McLaren.

His landmark 92nd success comes in his 14th season aged 35 and puts him within touching distance of a Schumacher-equalling seventh championship. 77 points ahead of Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton could clinch that historic title as early as the Turkish GP on November 15.

But while the relentless nature of Hamilton and Mercedes’ success means there is a certain inevitably over the identity of F1’s race winner in recent seasons, the Englishman says he still experiences plenty of doubts and uncertainties ahead of every race start with so many variables at play in each Grand Prix.

“Each race – and each race win particularly – there have been certain characteristics, a different journey, each time,” explained Hamilton, who made his 262nd F1 start on Sunday.

“The crazy thing about this is that I would have thought I would get used to things. But I was getting ready, getting my helmet on in the garage today – nerves, uncertainty. Have I remembered my strategy? Have I remembered my switch settings?

“All these different things you go through and it’s still terrifying!

“You wake up on a Sunday and every Sunday you feel different. It’s hard to register – am I good today? There are days I’m getting in the car on the grid and I’m like ‘I don’t feel good, this is not going to go well’ then I drive the best ever.

“Then I have days that I feel really good and it’s not so good. So you never know what to expect but all I try to do is by preparing myself the best way I can.”

Praising the team’s role in his preparations and routine, Hamilton said: “Even though I’ve had all the success, I study more than I’ve ever studied. I practice multiple things, that’s why you’re setting certain things done as consistent as they are.

“Also I work with incredible people. They really, really are phenomenal. You look at the reliability I’ve had [one DNF in the last 79 races and none in the last 45] – that’s no coincidence. That’s done from the guys really not taking no for an answer and people not sitting back on success, and continuing to develop together.”

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F1 driver ratings as Lewis Hamilton makes history in Portuguese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton won the Portuguese Grand Prix by 25.592 seconds as the British driver broke Michael Schumacher’s record for race victories. Hamilton equalled the legendary German’s 91 victories two weeks ago in the Eiffel Grand Prix at the Nurbugring but he has now become the outright record holder after a dominant performance at the Algarve International Circuit.

Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes (9/10)

A comfortable win for Hamilton that saw him break Schumacher’s record for race victories means this race will live long in the memory for F1 fans. He dropped to third in a dramatic opening two laps but battled back to earn the win.

Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes (6.5/10)

A second placed finish for the Finnish driver takes him to 179 points in the driver standings but he is still a long way off his team-mate Hamilton, who sits on 256. He did lead the race for a while but was overtaken by Hamilton on lap 20, who promptly cruised to a dominant win.

JUST IN: Lewis Hamilton surpasses Michael Schumacher record with Portuguese win

Max Verstappen – Red Bull (7/10)

After falling down to fifth as a result of the dramatic opening sequence, Verstappen did well to recover and earn a third place finish.

Charles Leclerc – Ferrari (7/10)

Ferrari’s Leclerc also did well in recovery, finishing fourth after falling down to eight as his tyres struggled to find enough grip.

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Lewis Hamilton explains how he trumped Valtteri Bottas tactic
Lewis Hamilton critical of FIA appointment ahead of Portuguese GP

Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri (8/10)

Having qualified in ninth position, Gasly was excellent as he rose to fifth. The AlphaTauri driver snatched a lead over Sergio Perez with two laps remaining.

Carlos Sainz – McLaren (7/10)

Sainz did lead after the manic opening two laps but he was no match for the Mercedes drivers. Overtook Perez on the final lap to seal sixth.

Sergio Pérez – Racing Point (7/10)

Recovered from a collision with Verstappen in the first-lap to finish seventh. Dropped behind both Gasly and Sainz late on in the race.

Esteban Ocon – Renault (6/10)

After qualifying in eleventh, Ocon drove a solid race to finish eighth.

Daniel Ricciardo – Renault (6/10)

Trailed his Renault team-mate, finishing ninth. Will not be happy after securing a podium finish in the previous race at the Nurburgring. 

Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari (6/10)

The German driver rose up to tenth to take the final point on offer after qualifying in a disappointing 15th position.

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‘Is this guy f***ing blind?’: Verstappen furious after Stroll crash in Portugal

A collision between Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll – and Pierre Gasly leaping from a burning car – overshadowed Valtteri Bottas topping the time sheet in Friday’s practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s Verstappen made contact with Racing Point’s Stroll that halted the action and required both men to visit the stewards, after Gasly’s Alpha Tauri suffered a fire that caused an earlier stoppage.

The crash came at turn one when the Dutchman appeared to pay little heed to his rival’s position as he went outside him.

Stroll’s car was sent spinning into the gravel.

In a race, it might have been seen as a racing incident with blame for both men, but Verstappen was adamant, on team radio, that the Canadian driver required an eyesight test.

“Is this f***ing guy blind?” he yelled. ”What the f*** is wrong with him?”

Video replays suggested that Verstappen may have thought Stroll was completing a flying lap and easing off to allow him to begin his own but Racing Point’s team chief Otmar Schafnaeur said Stroll was doing two successive fast laps.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner accepted the incident was probably “50-50”.

“If I’m absolutely honest, you can look at it and say both had a role to play. Max has assumed Lance was going to back out, while Lance may not have even been aware Max was there,” Horner said.

Stewards investigated the crash and took no action after the pair agreed the “incident was the result of a misunderstanding between them” and that “both could have contributed to avoid” the clash.

It came after Gasly’s Alpha Tauri burst into flames, forcing him to pull up.

He climbed out safely as the marshals moved in and the session was paused for 16 minutes.

Tempers flare as Stroll and Verstappen collide at Turn 1 💥#PortugueseGP 🇵🇹 #F1 pic.twitter.com/9xhTKe43dp

Bottas, who is 69 points adrift of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the title race, maintained his habit of being “fastest on Friday” when he clocked a best lap of 1min 17.940sec to beat Verstappen by six-tenths of a second.

It was the sixth consecutive Grand Prix at which Bottas, who topped both of the day’s sessions, was fastest in opening practice.

Hamilton, who is hunting a record 92nd career win on Sunday, wound up eighth, 1.5 seconds off the pace, but without producing a competitive lap in an interrupted session that was twice stopped by red flags.

Norris was third ahead of Charles Leclerc of Ferrari, Carlos Sainz in the second McLaren and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari.

Gasly, who was unhurt after jumping out of his fiery car, was seventh ahead of six-time champion Hamilton, Esteban Ocon of Renault and Alex Albon, in the second Red Bull.

Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo was well back in 13th and drew the stewards’ ire after failing to use the correct set of tyres in the second session.

A dramatic fire ended Pierre Gasly's FP2 in Portimao 🔥#PortugueseGP 🇵🇹 #F1 pic.twitter.com/RLd1jPBFkd

On a bright and cool afternoon in southern Portugal, the undulating track provided little grip and many challenges throughout the day.

Temperatures fell steadily in the afternoon session with two red flags interrupting the action.

The action began with Sainz spinning twice during a Pirelli prototype tyres test, in which Bottas was quickest and several drivers had lap times deleted for exceeding track limits.

Once the normal tyres were back in use, Leclerc went top before Ferrari teammate Vettel spun at Turn 14 and pitted.

Predictably, Bottas regained the initiative.

Meanwhile Mercedes CEO Ola Kallenius said that they would be ‘crazy’ to quit the sport as he sees interest in the sport booming, in particular among young people.

Teams have had to reflect on their plans ahead of next year’s implementation of a new binding commercial contract between the FIA, F1 and its teams — named the Concorde Agreement — and a complete set of new technical regulations.

The sport is also grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and environmental pressures on the automotive industry.

The car of Lance Stroll is removed from the track. (Photo by Jose Sena Goulao – Pool/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

Kallenius said that F1’s planned introduction of a budget cap would help reduce costs for Mercedes and its racing team.

“We reassessed our Formula One commitment at the beginning of the year,” Kallenius told Germany’s Manager Magazin.

“The price for television rights is rising significantly. Interest in F1 is growing in Asia, Europe, South America … Everywhere. And the number of young fans is exploding, especially through social media and Esports.

“Should we throw that away? We would be crazy.”

– with AFP

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Lewis Hamilton critical of FIA appointment ahead of Portuguese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has slammed the FIA’s decision to use Vitaly Petrov as a steward at this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix.

Hamilton has been at the forefront of tackling anit-racism issues in society and within the sport and at the recent Tuscan GP he wore a T-shirt calling for the arrest of the officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor.

The FIA responded by banning unofficial clothing on the podium and declared that the top three drivers must keep their race suits done up to their necks.

And Petrov, who raced in 57 Grand Prix between 2010-12 voiced his dissatification at Hamilton’s actions.

He said: “For me, this T-shirt, on top of calling for everyone to kneel, was too much.

“But to call on that in Formula One itself, I think half of the spectators didn’t even know what the shirt was about until it was explained to them.

“Let’s say a driver admits to being gay. Will they come out with a rainbow flag and urge everyone to become gay as well?

“I think the FIA will no longer allow such behaviours.”

Petrov’s comments were put to Hamilton during Thursday’s press conference and the six-time world champion was scathing in his assessment and declared that the FIA should be hiring people more in tune with ongoing issues.

“I’ve not seen all the quotes, obviously you’ve just recited some of them,” Hamilton said.

“So yes, of course, that is I would say a surprise to see that they would be hiring someone that has those beliefs and is so vocal about things that we’re trying to fight against.

“So you should take it up with them really, it’s nothing I can particularly do anything about it.

“But we should definitely be including people here who are with the times, who are understanding of the times that we are living in and sensitive to the matters that are surrounding us.

“So I don’t really quite understand what their goal is or why particularly he’s here because it’s not that they don’t have any other good options.”

In response, the FIA said in a statement: “The FIA appoints driver stewards with the relevant Formula 1 experience and expertise to carry out this function at the highest level, and who have expressed an interest to the FIA in being a driver steward.

“The Federation does not discriminate in this process based upon views expressed outside of their function as an FIA Steward, provided that any such expression does not contravene the FIA’s regulations and Code of Ethics.”

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Portuguese GP, IndyCar finale, Spa 24 Hours live on Sky Sports F1

Get set for a jam-packed weekend of motorsport on Sky Sports F1 with the return of the Portuguese GP headlining a hat-trick of live action from around the four-wheeled world.

In addition to live coverage of every session from the first Formula 1 race at Portimao, the channel is also airing the showpiece Spa 24 Hours in the GT World Challenge Europe and the title-deciding conclusion to the IndyCar season from St Petersburg, Florida.

Sky F1 subscribers can watch the action on TV and the Sky Sports App. For non-subscribers, a NOW TV Sky Sports Day Pass is a one-off payment of £9.99.

And that’s not all: our Race to Perfection docuseries concludes this weekend. The first airing of Episode Seven, Trailblazers, is at 9pm on Saturday night on Sky Documentaries, with a second showing at 8.30pm on Sky F1 on Sunday. All episodes so far are available to download On Demand.

The Portuguese Grand Prix

Back in Portugal after a quarter of a century away as part of the sport’s much-changed 2020 schedule, F1 races at the undulating Algarve International Circuit for the very first time.

Widely likened to motorsport’s equivalent of a ‘rollercoaster’, the 4.65km track is set to put drivers to a physical test in a similar way to another F1 debutant, Mugello, last month – and that served up a barnstorming, dramatic race.

Lewis Hamilton can take the outright record for F1 race wins with a 92nd career success on Sunday, but Mercedes are expecting Red Bull’s recent improvement to mean that the battle at the front will continue to get closer between 2020’s top two.

Sunday’s race starts at 1.10pm, with build-up from 11.30am. Qualifying is at 2pm on Saturday.

Thursday
3.30pm: Drivers’ Press Conference

Friday
10.30am: Welcome to the Weekend LIVE!
11am: Practice One LIVE!
2.45pm: Practice Two build-up LIVE!
3pm: Practice Three LIVE!
5.30pm: The Story So Far LIVE!

Saturday
10.45am: Practice Three build-up LIVE!
11am: Practice Three LIVE!
1pm: Qualifying build-up LIVE!
2pm: PORTUGUESE GP QUALIFYING LIVE!

Sunday
11.30am: Grand Prix Sunday LIVE!
1.10pm: THE PORTUGUESE GRAND PRIX LIVE!
3pm: Chequered Flag LIVE!
4pm: The Notebook LIVE!
10pm: Race highlights

Spa 24 Hours: GT World Challenge Europe

The showpiece of the GT World Challenge Europe season around one of motorsport’s most revered and challenging circuits, Spa-Francorchamps.

A mammoth 56-car grid across four different classes featuring some of the biggest manufacturers in motorsport such as Mercedes, Ferrari and Porsche.

You’ll be able to see your first action from Belgium on Thursday evening with qualifying and night practice from 5.50pm.

The 24-hour race begins on Saturday afternoon and live coverage on Sky F1 will commence straight after Portuguese GP qualifying coverage. After IndyCar qualifying, the channel returns to Belgium through the night and into the morning all the way up to Portuguese GP build-up from 11.30am.

The final two hours of the race will be shown on delay from 4.30pm, after The Notebook.

Qualifying
Thursday: 5.50pm-9.15pm LIVE!

Race
Saturday: 3.35pm-8pm LIVE!
Saturday: 9.30pm-Sunday 11.30am LIVE!
Sunday: 4.30pm-6.30pm

IndyCar title decider: Grand Prix of St Petersburg

It’s five-time champion Scott Dixon vs two-time reigning champion Josef Newgarden in the IndyCar title decider at the season-ending Grand Prix of St Petersburg.

Dixon heads the standings by 32 points but Newgarden has finished ahead of his Chip Ganassi rival in each of the past five races to get back into contention.

A maximum of 54 points are still up for grabs over the weekend.

St Petersburg’s temporary street track was originally scheduled to open the 2020 campaign back in March before the coronavirus pandemic delayed the season, but now closes what has been a condensed 14-race schedule taking place at nine circuits in the space of just four months.

Saturday
8pm: Qualifying LIVE!

Sunday
6.30pm: Race LIVE!

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NASCAR reinstates Kyle Larson from suspension; driver used racial slur in April

NASCAR announced Monday that it has lifted Cup Series driver Kyle Larson’s suspension, and that he will be eligible to resume racing on Jan. 1, 2021.

Larson was banned indefinitely on April 13 for saying the N-word during a live iRacing event the previous day. Chip Ganassi Racing fired him April 14. He applied for reinstatement Friday.

“NASCAR continues to prioritize diversity and inclusion across our sport,” NASCAR said in a statement announcing Larson’s return. “Kyle Larson has fulfilled the requirements set by NASCAR, and has taken several voluntary measures, to better educate himself so that he can use his platform to help bridge the divide in our country.”

NASCAR.com reported that NASCAR and Larson agreed to a reinstatement agreement that runs through 2023. Larson will be required to continue with speaking engagements, training and classes. He will continue to work with the Urban Youth Racing School and Rev Racing as well. He previously completed sensitivity training.

Larson spoke extensively about his suspension experience Oct. 4 in an essay on his website, titled “Kyle Larson: My Lessons Learned.”

“Since April, I’ve done a lot of reflecting. I realized how little I really knew about the African-American experience in this country and racism in general,” Larson, whose mother is of Japanese descent, wrote. “Educating myself is something I should’ve done a long time ago, because it would’ve made me a better person — the kind of person who doesn’t casually throw around an awful, racist word. The kind who makes an effort to understand the hate and oppression it symbolizes and the depth of pain it has caused Black people throughout history and still to this day. It was past time for me to shut up, listen and learn.”

Larson was able to race during his NASCAR suspension; he competed in the World of Outlaws and USAC series, where he won races regularly.

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NASCAR fans try to diminish Joey Logano’s win at Kansas: ‘This isn’t racing’

Joey Logano’s victory at Kansas on Sunday prompted strong reactions from NASCAR fans regarding the 2020 racing package, which made it difficult for Kevin Harvick to chase down the Team Penske competitor.

While many people credited Logano while still criticizing the aerodynamic setup, others used it as an opportunity to diminish Logano’s achievement. His win clinched advancement to the championship race at Phoenix — a tough pill to swallow for his legion of haters.

Harvick, though, credited Logano’s racing style. He recognized Logano is an expert in close quarters, a trait that at times rubs rivals the wrong way.

Logano took the lead from Harvick at the final restart before holding onto his advantage through the checkered flag.

Here’s a look at the social media debate about Logano’s Hollywood Casino 400 triumph:

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Shane van Gisbergen ensures Holden’s last race on mountain becomes fitting farewell

A famous 52-year old war has ended in a fairy tale finish for Holden with the Australian V8 legend claiming a final win over Ford.

In a fitting farewell for the brand that helped turn a regional race held on the side of a sheep paddock into Australia’s very own Monaco, Holden claimed its 34th and final Bathurst crown on an emotional day on the mountain.

A legend that began in 1968 when a car called the Monaro beat down a Falcon, Holden floored Ford in a thrilling final fight that went down to the last lap to leave the sport.

Dead and buried as a car company but a Bathurst legend that will never be lost, Shane van Gisbergen waved the famous red-flag for one final time on an emotional victory lap after beating new Mustang main man Cameron Waters in a one-on-one war.

MORE BATHURST 1000:

Triple Eight Race Engineering owner Rolland Dane held back tears after his team ended Holden’s official involvement in the sport with a famous win.

Source:Getty Images

Shane van Gisbergen prevailed after a lengthy duel with Cameron Waters at Bathurst.

The Commodore will be on track without official support next year before being replaced by the Camaro in 2021.

“It was an awesome job by all these guys and I really wanted to acknowledge the end of an era with Holden,” Dane said.

“We are leaving them with a tinge of sadness but also looking forward to the future. We have great plans which everyone has seen and hopefully we will be back here in a couple of years with the most exciting cars Bathurst has ever seen. But it is farewell to Holden as a new car brand in Australia and we have had some great memories. We are really sorry that we can’t share this win today with all those fans that would usually be here because of COIVD.

Holden hero Garth Tander also paid tribute to the Aussie institution after claiming his fourth Bathurst crown in a Commodore.

Tander follows in the footsteps of the great Peter Brock who won nine Bathurst titles for Holden during a partnership that rivalled Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

“It is really special for us to win this as Holden’s last official factory team,” Tander said.

“We get to stand on the top step of a place that means so much to Holden. It is really, really cool.”

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CHAMP’S MISSED CHANCE TO SILENCE CRITICS

– Rebecca Williams

Scott McLaughlin declared he is satisfied he has achieved everything he wanted to in Supercars, despite missing the podium and the chance to silence his critics over last year’s controversial Bathurst win at Mount Panorama on Sunday.

After what is expected to be his last full-time race as a Supercars driver ahead of a move to IndyCars the United States, McLaughlin was officially crowned champion for the third straight year before giving the strongest indication yet it was his last campaign.

McLaughlin had to settle for fifth place at Mount Panorama on Sunday as his Holden rival Shane van Gisbergen sealed his maiden Bathurst crown.

As he prepares to head off to the United States on Monday ahead of his IndyCar debut at St Petersburg next week, the DJR Team Penske star said he was satisfied he had done everything he had wanted to in Supercars.

Scott McLaughlin was still celebrating despite missing the podium at Bathurst.Source:Getty Images

“I have done everything I have wanted to achieve regardless of how St Pete goes,” McLaughlin said.

“I know right now I have got to grab this opportunity with both hands. It’s not an audition I would say … but I can’t be a gumby, I’ve got to go out there and drive the thing as fast as I can and acquaint myself as best as I can.

“I said I wanted to win a Bathurst, a championship and be a consistent front-runner (in this series). I really want to move up that leaderboard with wins and poles and really proud of all that.

“If it is (my last full-time race) I am completely satisfied.”

McLaughlin’s maiden Bathurst 1000 victory was shrouded in controversy last year with one rival team boss saying it remained “tainted” in the lead-up to this weekend’s race.

Scott McLaughlin’s next move is to head to America for an IndyCars debut.Source:Getty Images

DJR Team Penske was slapped with a record-breaking $250,000 fine and stripped of 300 team points for issuing an illegal team order to McLaughlin’s teammate Fabian Coulthard.

The team was then handed another bombshell penalty after stewards found the team guilty of an engine breach at Mount Panorama. McLaughlin was stripped of his qualifying and top-10 shootout win from Bathurst, while the team was hit with another $30,000 fine.

Despite missing the chance to erase last year’s controversy with a podium on Sunday, McLaughlin said his third championship win was his “proudest”.

He celebrated the championship by burning rubber around the Mount Panorama circuit.

“To wrap the teams championship up along with the drivers championship is fantastic and was our goal that we had coming into it,” McLaughlin said.

“It was made a bit easier with Triple Eight’s little moment at the top of the hill, but I’m really proud. It’s been tough for everyone … It’s one of my proudest championships.

“I’m proud of everyone at Shell V Power Racing, it’s been an awesome year and it’s been hard for a lot of teams including ours and I’m just proud to bring home the bacon.”

McLaughlin will line up for Team Penske at the IndyCar season finale at St Petersburg in Florida on October 25.

He finished the year 451 points ahead of Tickford Racing’s Waters in the 2020 championship battle, completing a dominant year with 13 race wins – nine ahead of Jamie Whincup – and 15 pole positions.

MORE SPORT NEWS:

Originally published asFitting finale to Holden’s epic racing era

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Daniel Ricciardo exposes Renault’s biggest flaw

Despite some “moments of promise”, the dramatic resurgence of Daniel Ricciardo has exposed Renault teammate Esteban Ocon, according to former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer.

After a disappointing 2019 season, Ricciardo has made a triumphant return from the coronavirus lockdown. The Australian finished in the top five at races in Britain, Belgium, France and Russia, before snaring a highly-anticipated podium at the Eifel Grand Prix on Sunday.

It was Renault’s first podium finish in the F1 since 2011.

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On the F1 drivers’ standings, Ricciardo sits ahead of all Ferrari and Racing Point drivers in fourth position, one spot behind former Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, with Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas leading the way.

However, Ocon hasn’t enjoyed the same level of success — the French driver has cracked the top five just once this year, and he currently sits in 12th position with 36 points.

In his maiden season with Renault, Ocon has out-qualified Ricciardo just once, during a wet session at the Styrian Grand Prix back in July.

Daniel Ricciardo is teaching Esteban Ocon a thing or two in 2020.Source:News Corp Australia

Although Ocon has by no means struggled in the F1 this year, Palmer believes the 24-year-old isn’t “stacking up well” against his Australian counterpart.

“As for Ricciardo, he has been brilliant in 2020 and is making Ocon look quite average right now on his return to a full-time drive,” Palmer said on BBC Sport.

“Ocon is a young driver of good potential — and showed it alongside Sergio Perez at Force India in 2017 and 2018 — but he simply isn’t stacking up well against Ricciardo, which is a mark of how consistently well the Australian is performing this season.

“Although he was only a fraction behind Ricciardo in qualifying at the Nurburgring, Ocon carries close to a 0.2 second deficit on average over the season so far.

“But it’s actually the races where the difference is bigger.

“In that Styrian Grand Prix where Ocon qualified ahead, it wasn’t long before Ricciardo was crawling over the back of the Frenchman and eventually came through. And in Sochi, the race before Nurburgring, Ricciardo passed Ocon after a poor start, and eventually pulled ahead by a full 26 seconds.

“It’s not to say Ocon’s been particularly poor. He has had moments of promise, and more reliability issues than Ricciardo, and he’s new to the team after a season on the sidelines.

“But I’m sure even Renault will be surprised at how Ricciardo is outperforming their new signing. He’s in the best form he’s been in for a while, and this year he can actually finish in a higher championship position than he managed in his final two seasons at Red Bull.”

READ MORE: Red Bull’s cheeky advice to Ricciardo

READ MORE: Ricciardo is crushing his new team

Esteban Ocon driving the Renault Sport Formula One Team RS20.Source:Getty Images

Renault hasn’t finished in the top three of an F1 season since 2007 — the French team is currently six points behind third-placed Racing Point on the constructors’ standings.

“Overall this year, Renault are bang on their usual batting average, in fifth place out of the 10 teams in the standings with six races to go,” Palmer said.

“But actually there are now signs of real progress, and they have more than just a trophy and some champagne to celebrate after Ricciardo’s result on Sunday.

“They finally look to be making strides towards the front, and this result has been on the cards for some time. Since bringing upgrades to the car at Silverstone, Ricciardo has been a second-row qualifier, and a fastest lap setter in addition to those three fourth places.

“These are just rewards for the effort and progress Renault have made from a disappointing 2019, and it was great to see the smiles on the faces of my former colleagues under the podium on Sunday.

“This feels like an opportunity for the team to move forward, rather than rest on the laurels of a breakthrough podium.

“Esteban Ocon, Ricciardo’s young teammate, has had a few reliability woes so far, but Renault will be hoping he can find a bit more form as well to match Ricciardo and add more points to Renault’s championship aspirations.”

Jolyon Palmer of Renault.Source:Getty Images

Palmer represented Renault in the F1 for two seasons in 2016 and 2017, where he racked up nine career points.

The Portuguese Grand Prix will commence on Monday morning AEDT, with lights out scheduled for 12:10am.

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