Ex-Formula 1 trio win WEC round at Portimao

Date published: June 13 2021 - Henry Valantine

Brendon Hartley Kazuki Nakajima Sebastien Buemi, former Formula 1 drivers

Ex-Formula 1 drivers Brendon Hartley, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi were victorious in the 8 Hours of Portimao in the World Endurance Championship.

Kamui Kobayashi, along with Jose Maria Lopez – who had been due to be in Formula 1 after signing with the failed USF1 team in 2010 – and Mike Conway, were locked in a race-long battle with their sister Toyota car, which had fellow ex-F1 colleagues Brendon Hartley, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi piloting the #8 car in Portugal.

The two Toyota cars and the pole-sitting Alpine team were all closely matched for the majority of the race at Portimao – which F1 visited back in April for the Portuguese Grand Prix.

As a whole, the grid was awash with ex-F1 talent throughout the Hypercar and LMP2 classes. Stoffel Vandoorne, Anthony Davidson – who won with his team in LMP2 – Giedo van der Garde, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jan Magnussen and Giancarlo Fisichella all took part in the eight-hour endurance battle at the fast, undulating circuit.

A full course yellow flag late on saw a late dash to the line between the two Toyota cars at the front, with hopes of an intra-team battle to the line as Hartley, Buemi and Nakajima’s charger led.

Unfortunately for fans, however, the Toyota team ordered a swap of positions with Kobayashi’s car, with former World Touring Car champion Lopez at the wheel at the time and seemingly depriving the race of the finish it deserved – before even more confusingly, the team orchestrated another car swap which saw the #8 car take the lead once more with 10 minutes to go, leading to the chequered flag.

Kamui Kobayashi, ex Formula 1 driver

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Simultaneously, IndyCar drivers were in action in Detroit in another race packed with former Formula 1 drivers.

There were mixed fortunes from them, however, with Romain Grosjean retiring from the race with his brakes catching fire after a spin – the Frenchman running to get an extinguisher himself to try and put the fire out.

Meanwhile, Arrow McLaren SP driver Patricio O’Ward – who will be testing a McLaren F1 car in December – brilliantly fought through the field in the final laps to take the win.

Marcus Ericsson, who took victory in Saturday’s race, was best of the ex-F1 talent by finishing in P9, with Takuma Sato and Alex Rossi in P12 and P14 respectively.

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