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BROWN: THE RACING SPIRIT HAS RETURNED TO MCLAREN

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While it is still very early days to trumpet a proper McLaren resurgence under marketing guru turned Formula 1 team boss Zak Brown, credit must be given for him getting the house in order and instilling a new hunger in the once mightiest of race teams.

With two new drivers, one a rookie, 2019 was always going to be a tough challenge for everyone at Woking, but Brown smartly freed himself of the time-consuming role of babysitting a superstar by putting Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz in the cars – their mandate: get adjusted to the team and drive as hard as you can.

So far the pair are ticking the right boxes.

The McLaren CEO can also take the kudos for promoting DTM and WEC ace manager Andreas Seidl to run the F1 operation – a brave move which could set a trend. When last did F1 go head-hunting in the WEC as he has done?

And of course, he stuck to his guns and wrenched James Key from the sticky confines of the Red Bull organisation.

These are two key players whose mandate is to get the team back to the front of the grid, with Brown (again very shrewdly) fronting for the team by dealing with the tons of ‘fluff’ on race weekends that could distract Key and Seidl.

Nevertheless, the impact of the pair will take a while to be fully felt at Woking, Key’s input probably only really evident in the 2020 car. Having said that, his current Toro Rosso is not a bad piece of kit. [Ask Adrian Newey…]

Meanwhile, clearly embracing his new role, Seidl is already instilling new energy within the ranks which prompted Auto Motor und Sport, to ask Brown what had changed within the team?

He replied, “A lot of things. The team is doing an excellent job. We don’t have the fourth fastest car, more like the sixth fastest, but our pit stops, our strategy, our reliability and our drivers have been very good, while others helped us with their own mistakes.”

With McLaren ‘Best of the Rest’ after seven rounds this season, even ahead of their engine supplier Renault, Brown was quick to dish out credit, “The team and our drivers put us in fourth place because our racing team has taken a step forward.”

So what changed since the winter?

“One word: focus,” replied Brown. “I told our team manager that I wanted better pitstops this year; that we meet deadlines; that we were the first car on the track for testing. We now have a clear, more traditional F1 structure.

“We have also improved our pitstop equipment and routines. Everyone knows what he has to do, everyone has improved. In recent years, a mentality had crept in: The car is not the best, why must we be the best?

“I pointed to Williams. For the past few years, they haven’t had the best car but they were always among the teams with the best pitstops. It depends on attitude and making sure every little thing counts.

“The racing spirit has returned to our organisation. Everyone is keen to get to the racetrack. Before there had been fatigue but now our people feel we are taking a step forward again. Where once we were on a downward spiral we have now reversed that trend and we have to use this momentum.”

“Look at Mercedes, they are inspired by this type of positive momentum, that gives them energy. This also works for drivers, when they have a good run, they become stronger and stronger.”

With Key and Seidl in place, Brown has his leadership in place, “Andreas is now the boss of the [F1] racing team and he can act independently and do what he thinks is necessary. I think his first impression is that we have great potential and do not need significant changes. This is now his construction site.”

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BOULLIER: THE TRAFFIC PLAN WE HAVE IS GOOD

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After being unceremoniously ditched by McLaren when the Zak Brown era got into full swing at Woking, Eric Boullier has emerged as a strategic advisor and race ambassador to the French Grand Prix.

Once in the hurly-burly of the Formula 1 contest, with senior management roles at Renault, Lotus and McLaren by, the Frenchman now finds himself on another side of the fence as he goes in to bat for the organisers of this weekend’s race at Paul Ricard, having already played an instrumental role in returning the Grand Prix to France after a decade absence.

One of the biggest gripes, and indeed turn-offs, regarding last year’s race at Paul Ricard, in Le Castellet were the exorbitant hotel and accommodation prices in the surrounding area during race week, while traffic jams which seriously hampered fans, teams and media from getting in and out of the circuit tarnished the weekend for many.

Ahead of this weekend’s race at the venue in southern France, F1 Media released an interview with Boullier, who addresses these issues and sheds light on others, ahead of his home race where he will once again be in the paddock limelight.

You were instrumental in bringing the French Grand Prix back to the calendar and since February you’ve been working with the organisers. What needed to be done and how has your role developed over the past months?
EB: The main thing for me to understand was where the team were at in terms of capability and development of this year’s race.
Despite a few glitches, they had a successful first edition and for me, it was about building on that and establishing the identity of the grand prix for the medium and long term – making sure we are building something Formula 1 views as a valuable Grand Prix for the future and also that fans value.
Last year was very successful in terms of attendance, but it was mainly French people and locals coming. We are now targeting a much wider audience across Europe and beyond.

Is that the key for the future success of the race – more consistent marketing and building a strong identity?
EB: Absolutely. You need the product and you need to keep developing it but you also need to find the right partners to establish the right marketing and you need to deliver the right message.
Reaching people is good, but you need to make sure your message is understood, and for us, that message is focused on our location. Our race date is just before the summer holidays, so what we want to do is to give people an experience of the French Riviera and I think we have really brought that experience to the track and to the paddock.
We want to maintain that French touch and the cultural experience. We want people coming to the race enjoy the Riviera experience, the food, the wine, the music. It’s a taste of summer before the holidays really kick into gear.

The event has to meet a great number of demands in terms of local employment, boosting tourism numbers but also remaining economically viable. How difficult is it to balance all of those aspects?
EB: I think the balance is between investing for the future and covering the costs of operating the Grand Prix itself, which are substantial.
We are lucky enough to be, in simple terms, a state company, which means that we are under no obligation to make a profit. Obviously, we can’t have any losses but we have the ability to spend what we have. It means that every cent we accrue in revenue can be put back into the race to make sure the experience is as great as it possibly can.

Is there any measure yet of the economic impact of the race on the region?
EB: Yes, we commissioned a survey with Deloitte before and after last year’s Grand Prix and it generated detailed numbers. In terms of job creation, we have created around 600 full-time jobs and the economic impact amounts to €78-million into the “Region Sud”. So it is around €14-million spent for a return of more than €70-million. When you have government and public subsidies involved you need to be transparent and prove that the model works. So far we have shown that it is a good model and now we need to make sure that we keep that model sustainable over the long-term.

The major concern last year was, of course, the traffic. Are you happy with the solutions put in place for this year’s Grand Prix?
EB: The plan we have is good. It has been dictated by data. We partnered with a company called Citec in Switzerland, which has world-class expertise in mobility plans for large events. They looked after the Ryder Cup in France last year, the 2016 UEFA European Championship and they are working with the Olympics for the 2024 Games in Paris.
They took all of the data we had from last year and with that knowledge of how the traffic flowed, and where and when it was at its heaviest, they built simulations and came back with a plan.
We have a new traffic management plan and we are working closely with the local authorities through a steering committee. We have additional access points to the circuit without crossing streams of traffic, we will have 170 shuttles available to the general public with 4,000 Parking & Ride places and we have partnered with traffic app Waze who will dedicate some engineers to the grand prix so that we have real-time traffic information that can be accessed by everyone.
We have to fix the issues we had last year – that’s a given. And if solve those problems and if we pass the second edition without mobility issues it will be forgotten.

The first year of a race is always something of an easy sell, as there’s inevitably a buzz around a new or returning race. The second year can be a lot trickier. Are you happy with ticket sales this year and with the programmes you have put in place to drive numbers?
EB: As mentioned, this year we embarked on an international advertising campaign, which we didn’t do last year, and that ties in with the establishment of a strong identity for the race.
We also hope that we deliver good value for money. We will have concerts every day with world-famous DJs and we will have two ‘village’ areas – the Village Sud which is a reconstruction of a typical village in the South of France – and the ‘Back to the Future’ Village, which will have vintage cars and simulators as well as future mobility demonstrations.
We’ll have more activity on track too. As well as Formula 1, 2 and 3 and the Porsche Supercup we are adding the Renault Clio Cup to the programme.
For sure, year one is relatively straightforward, as people are excited to see a new event, but in year two you need to offer an improved experience. You cannot imagine that the people who came last year will do the same again. Unless you develop they will choose another race or event. We need to target new customers and we need to create something different.
Those are our goals for the medium and long-term. We want to make the French Grand Prix one of the most attractive races on the calendar. We want it to be a destination event for F1 fans around the world.
That will then help us achieve the further goal of extending our contract with Formula 1, which I think we have always been clear is something we would like to see. And if we do that then it will help us convince the local authorities to invest more into the race and the region, into infrastructure and road works to make the traffic flow better again and to make the race even more attractive.

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FERRARI SET TO DROP MISSION WINNOW PERMANENTLY?

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The controversial Mission Winnow branding seen on the Ferrari at a few races this year is set to stay off the red cars for the rest of the season in an effort to avoid a backlash from consumers and activists.

The high profile but vague promotional project was initiated by Philip Morris International (PMI) in an effort to have their branding on the sport’s most iconic cars as they have done since the mid-eighties under the familiar Marlboro banner.

The new Mission Winnow project was never going to win over the sceptics and anti-tobacco activists who accuse PMI of using the convoluted initiative to peddle cigarettes to the one-billion smokers on the planet.

A PMI spokesperson said: “As announced at the start of the season, we may on a race-by-race basis provide opportunities to our partners to communicate messages in place of Mission Winnow.

“As was the case in Australia and Canada, Scuderia Ferrari will again celebrate their 90th anniversary on the livery and team uniforms at the Formula 1 GP in France this weekend. We will continue to share more information as appropriate ahead of each race.”

Jacek Olczak, chief operating officer at PMI, explained, “We put Mission Winnow on the car and somebody told us it looks like Marlboro. I said: Look, I think you should go to a doctor, OK? Each of us has a history and we can entertain discussion about our history but the problem is none of us can change it – so can we focus on what we have today?”

Marlboro, along with several major tobacco brands are etched into F1 history, many iconic cars were adorned with the likes of JPS, Camel, Rothmans, Lucky Strike, Mild Seven and West branding.

Indeed tobacco money made McLaren what it is today. Lotus became a force in the late-sixties and seventies with their tie-up with Gold Leaf and JPS, while Williams was substantially backed by Camel and then Rothmans during their glory days.

Throughout the seventies through until the early part of this century, many drivers made it through the junior careers thanks to backing from either Marlboro and Camel, while teams thrived from tobacco money not only in the top flight but also just about every other racing series at the time.

Today, tobacco sponsorship is banned, but that has not stopped PMI from pumping around $150-million to the Maranello coffers annually for the privilege of being associated with the sport’s most popular team.

However, from the moment the new branding broke cover on the red cars for last year’s Japanese Grand Prix the Mission Winnow initiative was always on shaky ground. Critics claimed the brazen white letters on a bright red background was merely a deconstructed version of the familiar white chevron on their cigarette packaging.

Anti-smoking activist Vicky Salt, of Action on Smoking and Health, told the Telegraph that her organisation had “severe reservations” about the campaign.

“The association with a glamorous, popular sport and a healthy lifestyle, we feel is not compatible with the products PMI is promoting. It’s all very well for them to say it doesn’t promote specific products, but it does promote the brand, and their logos, and if you search Mission Winnow you will find their products,” added Salt.

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Romain Grosjean unveils striking one-off home race helmet

Romain Grosjean French Grand Prix Helmet

Romain Grosjean has unveiled a special one-off helmet for his home race this weekend at the French Grand Prix.

The helmet, which features a geometric pattern in neon pink, was designed by a friend of Grosjean's, French artist Richard Orlinski.

The Frenchman has run a mainly black, red and yellow helmet this season with a fairly generic design.

Speaking ahead of his home event, Grosjean, who finished just outside the points in 11th last year, is hoping for a smoother run this weekend.

"Last year was a very good experience. I really enjoyed my time at Le Castellet and the support from the fans. I’m looking forward to this year again.

"I’m hoping for a better result, as last year was not the race I wanted. So, let’s hope it’s a good weekend, a good race, make sure we don’t spend too much energy outside the track, but on the other hand, I want to share a lot with the fans."

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Tech bite: Ferrari introduces new front-wing in France

Ferrari SF90 front-wing element

Ferrari has introduced a front-wing upgrade for this weekend's French Grand Prix, as it seeks to cut its deficit to the dominant Mercedes team.

The Italian outfit is one of a handful to have followed the 'outwash' development path – Mercedes meanwhile has a more traditional front-wing – which means the team are trying to force outer airflow around the front tyre by running a shallow front-wing.

The old-spec wing (below) features a deeper curve where the front elements are positioned low before rising up closer to the tyre. The endplate is also straight, which creates a narrower channel for the airflow to escape.

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Old: Canada-spec front-wing with deeper dip and straight endplates

The new front-wing (below), is a more extreme concept following the same philosophy. It features a much shallower curve, with the last two elements lowered significantly. The endplate now features a small cut-out, opening up the gap between the wing and tyre, allowing for more airflow to escape.

Ferrari are aiming to push more air around the front-tyre, which can then be channeled through the sidepod and floor to create greater rear downforce.

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New: France-spec front-wing upgrade with shallower dip and endplate cutout

Team boss Mattia Binotto admitted the changes won't be a quick solution to their problems, but may offer a long-term answer.

“In France we will have a few small evolutions, elements that represent for us a useful step in defining the direction we will take in developing the car.

“What we will be bringing won’t be the solution to our problems, but the technical feedback we get from these evolutions will be important for the next steps we take."

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French GP: Latest F1 tech updates, straight from pitlane

French GP: Latest F1 tech updates, straight from pitlane

Giorgio Piola and Sutton Images bring you the Formula 1 technical updates on show in the Paul Ricard pitlane at the French Grand Prix, giving insight into the relentless development undertaken by the teams in pursuit of more performance.

McLaren MCL34 front brake detail

McLaren MCL34 front brake detail

McLaren will test a more aggressive ‘pushrod-on-upright’ solution on Carlos Sainz’s car during Free Practice. The bulbous cover is a giveaway for what’s concealed beneath, and is a similar solution to the one we’ve seen Mercedes use since the start of the season.

Front detail of the car of Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren MCL34

Front detail of the car of Carlos Sainz Jr., McLaren MCL34

Another view of the pushrod-on-upright solution that McLaren will test on Sainz Jnr’s car during Free Practice.

Front wing of Ferrari SF90

Front wing of Ferrari SF90

Ferrari has a new front wing available in France, which as we can see in this picture features a new shorter endplate design with rearward cutout. Meanwhile, an additional triangular fence sits astride the footplate to help divert flow outboard and a small vertical Gurney on the trailing edge of the footplate will have its own aerodynamic benefits.

The wing elements have also had their shape and chord altered to take advantage of these alterations and better align the wings downforce and flow conditioning goals.

Ferrari SF90 front wing detail

This shot of the new Ferrari front wing gives us an idea of just how sculpted the endplate is and perhaps gives us more of an understanding of how much outwash the designers are looking to generate with it and the new add-ons.

Front brake disk of Ferrari SF90

Front brake disk of Ferrari SF90

This is a great shot of the Ferrari SF90’s front brake assembly without the drum installed, as it allows us to see how the inlet feeds the various areas of the assembly with the cool airflow it collects.

Front wing of Mercedes AMG F1 W10

Front wing of Mercedes AMG F1 W10

A good view of the inner tips of Mercedes front wing flaps. It has split the secondary flap into two sections at this inboard end in order to influence the Y250 vortex that’s shed beneath.

Front wing of Mercedes AMG F1 W10

This is also a good close-up of the outboard end of the Mercedes W10’s front wing, which shows us how much of the wing is proportioned off for flow conditioning and cannot be effected by wing angle changes, with the wing adjuster in the top of the shot.

Mercedes AMG F1 W10 rear detail

Mercedes AMG F1 W10 rear detail

A close-up of Mercedes rear wing endplate and the three rearward hanging vanes, along with the recently-added upwash strikes.

Mercedes AMG F1 W10 rear bodywork detail

Mercedes AMG F1 W10 rear bodywork detail

The shot of the Mercedes W10 from behind shows us the cooling panels that the team is looking to deploy for this race, with the open-ended transition panels from the halo in use, along with the louvred panels, both of which release heat generated within the sidepod.

Bargeboard on Mercedes AMG F1 W10

Bargeboard on Mercedes AMG F1 W10

The extremely intricate and complex region between the front wheels and sidepods on the Mercedes W10, with the various aerodynamic appendages that have grown out of what we consider a traditional bargeboard.

Mercedes AMG W10 diffuser detail

Mercedes AMG W10 diffuser detail

A glorious shot of the Mercedes W10’s rear end shows us how well defined and shaped all of the suspension components are, including the housing of the driveshafts within the lower wishbones. Meanwhile, notice the lower T-Wing that the team have perched beneath the rear leg of the upper wishbone, further improving the cars aerodynamic output.

Toro Rosso STR14 side detail

Toro Rosso STR14 side detail

Toro Rosso’s bare mirror housing and enveloping fin helps to improve flow around the mirror.

Renault R.S. 19 front wing detail

Renault R.S. 19 front wing detail

Renault has made changes to its nose for the French GP, incorporating a cape solution like the one first seen at Mercedes and subsequently copied by Williams, McLaren and Racing Point.

Renault R.S. 19 front wing detail

As a comparison here’s the old nose design without the cape.

Red Bull Racing RB15 front brake detail

Red Bull Racing RB15 front brake detail

A close up of the Red Bull RB15’s front brake duct assembly without the drum reveals the various channels that the airflow is passed through from the inlet to the discs, calipers and out through the wheel face for aerodynamic assistance.

Red Bull Racing RB15 front detail

Red Bull Racing RB15 front detail

Red Bull has a new wheel rim for the French GP which sees the inner ring removed, slimline spokes employed and a much smaller stub axle and retaining nut.

Sidepods detail on the car of Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15

Sidepods detail on the car of Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15

Red Bull has also made further refinements to their mirror housings, easing away more of the bodywork from the actual mirror body to improve airflow around the entire structure.

Red Bull Racing RB15 front wheel detail

Red Bull Racing RB15 front wheel detail

Another view of Red Bull’s front brake duct, this time when assembled and showing off the curvaceous cooling inlet, which has been split into various channels in order to feed cool air to the various components.

Front wing of Racing Point RP19

Front wing of Racing Point RP19

Two front wing/nose solutions are available to Racing Point in France, with the lower of the two being the latest specification and the one that features smaller ‘nostrils’ and a cape solution mounted under it.

MIKA: When one looks at why Ferrari are behind, just compare their meager updates compared to what Mercedes bring to each race.

Ferrari 'have budget", but even Red Bull Racing have more upgrades this round comparatively...

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Ricciardo says Renault's recent form has "ignited a fire"

Ricciardo says Renault's recent form has "ignited a fire"

Daniel Ricciardo says Renault's recent run of form has "ignited a pretty nice fire" inside the team, which he says reminds him of qualities that make Red Bull so strong.
The Australian has helped deliver a run of strong qualifying and race results that have helped lift Renault to fifth in the constructors' championship, ahead of the debut of a major car update in France this weekend that it hopes will improve things even more.

On the back of some difficulties earlier in the campaign with reliability, Ricciardo is delighted about a new-found belief that has emerged at Renault, especially after a double points haul in Canada.

"It was important for sure," said Ricciardo about that Montreal result. "I think it had slowly been coming. We'd started putting a string of Q3s together.

"I think we were slowly releasing that weight. But I think just for the team as well, not only did it give a bit of 'alright', but it also I feel ignited a pretty nice fire.

"I think the team tasted their first taste of a pretty big result in a while, especially the qualifying. Nearly getting interviewed after qualifying - even getting a sniff of that was good to see.

"Obviously the competitor in me always wants that, that's always there, but seeing it within the engineers and the mechanics and everyone, everyone just had a buzz about 'em. So that was nice."

And while Renault still has a way to go before it can match the results of Ricciardo's former team Red Bull, the Australian says he is witnessing inside Enstone the start of a growth of confidence that his old outfit had.

"I think the biggest thing, and I'm seeing it now evolve as well, is that when I went to Red Bull they'd just won four straight titles," he said. "So I walked into a team with a certain level of confidence and, not arrogance, but confidence which can sometimes be seen as arrogance.

"But they knew they were the best, everything about them and whatever. So there's that kind of level of confidence, and I guess here, it's taken a bit of time to get that.

"It's even just the way the team responds to a fight on the track or a good result. Instead of just a little clap, it's like 'come on!' get some fire going, and I've seen already that transform from the first few races.

"I think they're starting to realise that bigger things are possible, and that's creating a bit more atmosphere in the garage."

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Verstappen "talking" to father about joint Le Mans entry

Verstappen "talking" to father about joint Le Mans entry

Max Verstappen wants to race in the Le Mans 24 Hours with his father Jos and thinks it is possible to contest the event while still racing in F1.

The Dutchman’s F1 employer Red Bull helped design the Aston Martin Valkyrie that will race at Le Mans in the new Hypercar class that will represent the World Endurance Championship’s top tier.

While Verstappen said he and Red Bull “haven’t talked about” him racing the Valkyrie at Le Mans, the five-time grand prix winner said: “My desire is to do Le Mans one day. When it happens, I don’t know.

“I’m talking to my dad as well, so he needs to train a bit! If I want to do Le Mans, I would like to do it with my dad.”

Verstappen has not raced in any car-racing category other than single-seaters since stepping from karts to Formula 3 in 2014.

However, his extensive sim-racing experience has given him a taste of round-the-clock racing and Verstappen says he is a big fan.

“I’ve watched it [Le Mans] a lot, I’ve been there when my dad was driving,” said Verstappen, whose father won the LMP2 class in the event in 2008 and raced the Lola-Aston Martin in the main class the subsequent year. “It’s a very cool race.

“What I like is that you have so many different cars and categories that going through the traffic and stuff, especially in the night, I find it’s really amazing to drive.

“I’ve done one myself, online. It’s a lot of fun.”

The 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours was won by a trio of ex-F1 drivers – Toyota’s Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso, who also won the event when he raced for McLaren in 2018.

#19 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Nico Hulkenberg, Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber

Verstappen says Nico Hulkenberg’s experience, having won it in a Porsche in 2015 while racing for Force India in F1, shows it is realistic to target Le Mans while racing in F1 “if it doesn’t clash”.

“Nico did it and he won it,” Verstappen said. “I always want to win, but of course you need to be a bit… there’s luck involved, it’s such a long, crazy race.”

Another second-generation F1 driver, Kevin Magnussen, also has his eye on Le Mans.

#3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, GTLM: Jan Magnussen and Kevin Magnussen.

Magnussen’s father Jan has been a Le Mans regular since 1999, only missing the 2015 edition because his Corvette was withdrawn after a qualifying crash.

Haas driver Kevin said: “I’ve always said I’d love to do a race with my dad and with these Hypercars, who knows what factories are going to commit to that and get into that.

“I would love to do that with my dad. I think that’s the dream for me.

"If it wasn’t for him probably I would be focusing only on F1. Not because I wouldn’t like to do it, just because I’ve chosen this path and would be more focused on this.”

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Magnussen: Steiner did well to "shut me up" in Canada

Magnussen: Steiner did well to "shut me up" in Canada

Kevin Magnussen admits that his Haas Formula 1 team boss Gunther Steiner did well to make sure that he didn't "go crazy" on the radio during the Canadian GP.

After Magnussen stated in a radio message that he was enduring the "worst experience" he'd ever had in a racing car, Steiner intervened and told the Dane that "enough was enough."

Following his qualifying crash, Magnussen started from the pitlane with a set-up gamble that didn't pay off and left him with a difficult car.

On the in-lap to the pits after the race, Magnussen apologised to the crew, acknowledging that they had to work hard to rebuild the car for him.

"He didn't tell me off," he said when asked by Motorsport.com about Steiner's intervention. "You should hear when he tells me off! I think Gunther knows me very well and I don't complain very often. When I do it means I'm very, very frustrated.

"He knows that, so I think he did well to just shut me up and make sure I didn't go crazy. I was about to eat the steering wheel. It was very bad at that moment. We were helpless in the race, so it was better to just get on with it and talk about it afterwards.

"I realised my message sounded more offensive to the team than I meant it to be. I think I assumed that people understand we have a good car, and that the only thing that holds us back is us not being able to work the tyres right.

"I was very frustrated so I guess it was good to just tell me to get on with it. It's not like I would have said anything bad about the team or the car. I was just angry and felt like dying at that point. I don't think he needed to shut me up, but he did the right thing to make sure."

Regarding his post-race apology, he said: "I realised it sounded offensive to the team and to the crew who had just done such an amazing job overnight to get the car ready, I'd made the mistake on Saturday to crash the car and put a lot of work on them.

"I felt really bad they took it like that so I apologised to everyone. They know me really well, there's no feeling after the race. Everyone knew what I meant. They know I appreciate all their work and don't think of them in any bad way at all."

Magnussen admitted that he had even thought about stopping the car.

"I never felt like retiring as much as I did that race. Not only for me, but for the team that is doing such a good job with the car we have, and have produced such a great car.

"And made huge steps in other areas, when you look at the car the quality of the build and the parts is just very, very good. I see all this progress in the background because I'm part of the team, and you guys don't get to see that.

"And when we find ourselves in the situation like we did in Canada it's like a hit in the face to not only me, but the whole team. I feel sorry for them because they are doing such a good job, and it doesn't show on the race track."

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French GP reveals changes to pitlane entry

French GP reveals changes to pitlane entry

French Grand Prix officials have completely changed the location of the entry to the pitlane at Paul Ricard in a bid to avert the problems that occurred during last year's Formula 1 weekend.

A tricky entry last year, which featured a tight right/left turn in front of the Mercedes pits, prompted concerns from drivers about safety, and the FIA ended up cutting the speed limit from 80km/h to 60 km/h.

Pitlane track detail Pitlane track detailPitlane track detail

Following the issues last year, Paul Ricard chiefs have now completely reconfigured the location of the pitlane entry – which now begins off the racing line at Turn 14.

Drivers peel to the right of the circuit and then run down a bespoke pitlane channel that brings them in a much safer route in to the pits. The tweak has also meant the safety car line 1 has been moved.

Pitlane track detail Pitlane track detail

The speed limit will remain at 60km/h however, due to the narrow nature of the Paul Ricard pitlane.

As well as the entry being changed, the pitlane exit has been reprofiled – with it being widened and extended towards Turn 1 to allow drivers to build up more speed before they rejoin the racing line.

As well as the changed to the pitlane, the track has been resurfaced at numerous points, including Turns 1, Turns 3 through to 7 and the final corner.

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Why Sebastian Vettel may have turned a corner

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That penalty was still the talk of the town as Formula 1 rolled into Paul Ricard with the stewards set to meet on Friday and hear Ferrari’s reasoning for requesting a review of the decision. Regardless of the outcome, what Sebastian Vettel did during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend – and what he does next, starting with the French Grand Prix – raises some interesting talking points…

On paper, the Canadian Grand Prix was another failure in a string that is growing frustratingly long for Ferrari this season. Sebastian Vettel was demoted to second, having crossed the line first, when a five-second time penalty was applied for returning to the circuit in an unsafe manner and forcing chief title rival – and championship leader – Lewis Hamilton off-track in his Mercedes.

It was also the latest example of Vettel coming off second best when fighting Hamilton. First there was Italy last year, when Vettel spun when trying to defend from Hamilton at the second chicane. Then there was Russia, when Hamilton passed him on track. Add in Bahrain this season, when Vettel spun when trying to keep up with Hamilton, and you get a highlights reel that Vettel will not be keen to dust off and watch anytime soon.

But there were positives to take from Canada. While Ferrari have, at times, had a Prancing Horse that is the fastest of all, they have rarely in 2019 managed to seize control of the reins and get the SF90 to perform as they expect when it leaves the safety of the stable to stretch its legs out on track. It’s why on Fridays, after the two 90-minute practice sessions, Vettel so often trots out the same lines, that he can’t find a rhythm – something that is key for a driver to build up a weekend – or get a balance he is happy with.

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Hard work overnight usually bears fruit, but they are coming from so far back, it’s simply not enough. In Canada, it was different. Vettel didn’t mention rhythm or balance once. He played down expectations for the weekend, but his mannerisms and the way he carried himself suggested this was one of the better Fridays for the Scuderia. Granted, Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve played to Ferrari’s strengths, but so did Bahrain and Azerbaijan – and they failed to take advantage of that when it counted come Sunday afternoon.

With a strong base on which to work, Vettel was able to excel on Saturday, delivering as near a perfect lap as you can get while also taking advantage of the fact that Hamilton was on the back-foot slightly after an uncharacteristic crash in Friday practice that meant he lost a bunch of track time. Come race day, with Hamilton looking the quicker of the two, Vettel managed to stay ahead and absorb the pressure for much of the race. Then, of course, came that costly error.

But there were enough signs in Canada to suggest that Vettel hasn’t lost his edge, but instead perhaps was in a rut – as many drivers and elite sportspeople endure – that he was, and still is, battling to escape from. Confidence is key in sport and Vettel, it seemed from the outside, had lost his, perhaps as far back as Italy when he lost that wheel-to-wheel fight with Hamilton – and he has struggled to get it back.

Vettel’s last win came way back in Belgium 2018, a run of 15 races. The German insists that isn’t playing on his mind. “I’m not frustrated,” he said. “Do I look frustrated? No, I’m not frustrated. It’s not like we had 15 races to win and we didn’t win. Then I’d be frustrated. We did the best we could. This year, arguably we could have had two shots so far, at one Charles [Leclerc] had a troubled race [in Bahrain] and I wasn’t there in that race and in the other one, at least we crossed the line first! Generally I’m pretty happy with the races I’ve had.”

For what it’s worth, Vettel didn’t sound frustrated when he spoke to the media on Thursday. In fact, he was in tremendous form, answering questions eloquently rather than taking the stonewalling approach.

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Key to Vettel’s tremendous success at Red Bull from 2010 to 2013 was that he had, for the most part, the best car and was able to drive it in such a way that he could get everything out of it. So when things are going his way, he can be brilliant. That hasn’t yet been the case at Ferrari – and as a result he’s struggled more. But if he can use the Canadian Grand Prix weekend as a building block and feed off the positive feedback he received from fans across the world for the way he handled himself after the race, perhaps he can turn a negative into a positive.

Ferrari are not the favourites heading into France and their chances of victory aren’t as high as in Canada because despite the long straights, where their power unit will be a huge boost, there are more corners and that is where rivals Mercedes will excel.

“The track layout is a bit different here [compared to Montreal],” said Vettel. “We know our car is very competitive on the straights, we are lacking some grip in the corners, so we lose and gain depending on where we are. Here we have a good mix of both. We have some updates, we have some parts to try. Friday will be an important day to see if we can get the car trimmed to see if we can make a step forward.”

A win would be handy, a signal that his dip is over, but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all. Second place after another clean weekend – plus their refusal to get distracted by the meeting with the stewards regarding that penalty - will be just as useful, because momentum in Formula 1 is huge, and Vettel and Ferrari will finally have some. With Austria – where our data shows Ferrari could have their best chance of victory in the current run of races – and Silverstone, where they should be in the fight, too, coming up, that momentum will be crucial.

So can Vettel get himself some momentum in France?

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Bottas says points gap to Hamilton ‘still manageable’ in race for world title

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Valtteri Bottas heads into the French Grand Prix weekend 29 points – that’s more than a full race win – behind Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ standings. But with a maximum of 364 points still available before the end of the year, the Finn was defiant that the intra-team war was far from over.

Bottas spectacularly won the 2019 season-opener in Australia, earning himself the nickname ‘Bottas 2.0’ in the process for the dominant way he put Hamilton in the shade on race day. Since then, however, despite his pole position tally for the season impressively outstripping Hamilton three to two, Bottas has won just once more, in Baku, while Hamilton has taken five victories, his most successful start to a campaign ever.

So, ahead of the French Grand Prix, was some doubt starting to creep into Bottas’ psyche that he could really overhaul his illustrious team mate this year?

“No doubt,” said Bottas, speaking on Thursday in Paul Ricard. “I still remember my last win, my last pole, like it was yesterday. The points gap to Lewis… it's still manageable. It's 14 races to go and that's a lot of points, so I just need to try and get those wins now, get the big points.”

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Bottas endured a difficult Canadian Grand Prix that saw him make a series of mistakes in the Q3 segment of qualifying to leave him sixth on the grid, from where he recovered to fourth in the race, as Hamilton claimed his fifth win following the controversial penalty handed out to Sebastian Vettel.

But while the wind certainly appears to be in Hamilton's sails currently – with Bottas now not having won a race since April – the Finn was anticipating several more momentum shifts between the pair this season, with the next one, he hoped, beginning this weekend at a track Bottas believed would suit Mercedes better than Montreal.

“It's super competitive [between Lewis and I] for sure this year,” he said. “I think the momentum is going to change from one to another during the year, and for different reasons, I haven't been quite able to maximise the points in the last two races. But nothing has changed in a way, so just again, a complete reset from Montreal, move on and try again here.

“I'm sure there's a possibility for [Paul Ricard] to be a stronger track than Montreal for us,” he added. “There’s some really long straights here and as we've seen, that’s a pretty big advantage for Ferrari, especially in qualifying on the straights, so we're expecting a close fight and not to come to the weekend thinking we're ahead. I think that's always the right mentality anyway, so we need to make sure we get the most of our package… It's going to be all about small margins and taking the opportunities on each race weekend.”

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2019 McLaren team ‘more confident’ than in recent years, says Norris

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Can McLaren ever recover their former glory and turn themselves back into a race-winning squad? It’s a wish that’s deeply held by many in the paddock – and according to current drivers Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, a surfeit of confidence in the team means they’re well-placed to take a step in performance.

Norris and Sainz replaced 2018 drivers Fernando Alonso, who retired from the sport, and Stoffel Vandoorne at the start of 2019, while two key hires for the team – James Key as Technical Director and Andreas Seidl as Team Principal – have come online for the team in the previous few months.

And the results seem to be working, with the team currently sitting fourth in the constructors’ standings, ahead of the works Renault squad and punchy midfielders like Haas, Toro Rosso and Racing Point.

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Asked if there was a new spirit of optimism in the squad this year that wasn’t present when he worked alongside Alonso and Vandoorne as reserve driver in 2018, Norris replied: “I think there has been since the beginning of the season, before Australia, before anything.

“I think always in a new year, everyone gets refreshed [but] it's continuing. Even when we've had a bad result, we still know that it's just a bad result for a certain reason, and I think everyone's confident that we might not overcome it in the next race but we have more confidence within everyone in the team, everyone here and everyone back at McLaren and MTC [the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking] that we can improve and we can improve those areas that we're struggling in or not so strong in. I think everyone's more confident in everyone else in the team.”

A 14-point haul for Renault at the Canadian Grand Prix – where McLaren failed to score with either car – meant that Renault closed to within two points of their customer team in the constructors’ race after Montreal. But as they look ahead to this weekend’s French Grand Prix, Sainz was keen to keep the progress McLaren had made in the previous 12 months in perspective.

“In qualifying in Canada, we were two or three-tenths off Renault,” he said. “But we cannot forget that [at Paul Ricard] last year, [McLaren] were one second off Renault. We’re still making progress.

“We were all disappointed in Canada [where Sainz qualified eighth before being demoted to 11th on the grid for impeding Alex Albon] because I would have liked to do a perfect lap and maybe out-qualify Nico [Hulkenberg] and kept myself behind Ricciardo if I’d done a perfect lap. But it didn’t happen and we were all disappointed. But when you put things into perspective then you realise the progress that this team is making and the good direction we are heading in.”

McLaren currently have 30 points to Renault’s 28, with Racing Point a further nine points adrift in sixth place in the constructors’ championship.

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Auction Block: Niki Lauda’s 1975 Ferrari 312T Race Car

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Legendary Formula One driver and three-time world champion Niki Lauda sadly passed away on May 20th of this year. But he will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest athletes to ever hit the asphalt. Now, one of his race cars, a 1975 Ferrari 312T that helped him win his titles, is headed to the auction block.

Even without the pedigree of having been driven by one of the most impactful racers of all time, this vehicle is an impressive feat of engineering — one of just five of the evolutionary “transversale” Grand Prix cars built for the 1975 season. Powered by a flat-12 engine, this svelte racer had 500bph and became one of the most important and dominant vehicles in Ferrari’s racing history. And we’re sure being piloted by Lauda during perhaps his most accomplished year had plenty of impact on that fact. A true piece of automotive history, Niki Lauda’s 1975 Ferrari 312T will hit the Gooding & Company Pebble Beach auction block in mid-August of this year.

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10 Laps to go and this has been an unbearably boring race.  It's basically been more processional then monaco.

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There are so many things wrong with modern F1....where to begin.  3 worse for me is shitty track design, fuel and tire management.

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Hoping Austria will be more interesting. Longer straights "should" work in the other teams favour.

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Honestly the best racing in a series is probably Indycar.  WEC/IMSA is pretty interesting too.  In all 3 series you have this weird thing called overtaking.  I thought I heard the announcers say last week that there were 55 overtakes for F1.  Indycar (yes I know it was an oval) had over 200 overtakes halfway through the race.  The LMP1/2 and GT cars can pass one another and aren't hammered to shit by aero when they get close to one another.

F1 has amazing looking cars but they just can't pass one another.  The top 3-4 positions are usually dictated on Saturday and who gets a good start on Sunday.  Most of the circuits suck too.

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I’m really enjoying F2.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Didn't watch it, so maybe someone else will have to fill me in😄 This was the first F1 race I've missed since 2012 and I won't watch or attend another one until things change, so... unfortunately this boycott may last a WHILE! lol...

...The F1 organizers have destroyed the sporting aspect, all that's left is the spectacle, and even that is nowhere near what it once was back in the days of screeching V10 engines, and super light and nimble race cars...

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Didn't watch it, so maybe someone else will have to fill me in This was the first F1 race I've missed since 2012 and I won't watch or attend another one until things change, so... unfortunately this boycott may last a WHILE! lol...
...The F1 organizers have destroyed the sporting aspect, all that's left is the spectacle, and even that is nowhere near what it once was back in the days of screeching V10 engines, and super light and nimble race cars...

I didn’t watch it either. It was a relief, actually.
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23 hours ago, Baccy said:

Didn't watch it

 

17 hours ago, Lotusguy said:

I didn’t watch it either.

Neither one of you missed anything.  It was basically 53 fast paced parade laps.

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THE DAY AFTER: UNTOUCHABLE LEWIS

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His win in Montreal might not have been not entirely on merit, but you certainly can’t say the same about Lewis Hamilton’s performance in Le Castellet.

Leading from start to finish, never even remotely challenged, and only a last-lap charge from Sebastian Vettel denying him a grand chelem, the championship leader’s Sunday was an ominous sign for those still hoping for a different outcome to this season.

Already, it was obvious Ferrari wouldn’t be the ones to keep the title fight interesting, but there is still hope Valtteri Bottas can – although it definitely took a hit on Sunday.

Ahead of his teammate by 18 seconds at the flag, Hamilton looked like he was driving another car entirely, to the point that many on F1 twitter openly mocked the “Bottas 2.0” designation thrown around earlier in the season.

Personally, I think that’s a bit unfair – Bottas is not the same driver he was in 2018 – but just as the Finn improved, now Hamilton has responded by raising his level even further.

How much more pace RoBottas can find within himself, I don’t know, but he’ll have to bring it in the next firmware update, and soon. Hamilton is already 36 points ahead in the standings, and that means the Finn probably already needs a bit of luck to reel him back in. The good news is with Austria less than a week away, Bottas won’t have to wait long for a shot a redemption – just don’t expect Hamilton to give it to him.

Quick Hits

Another race, another dose of penalty controversy thanks to Daniel Ricciardo. This time however, I think it was completely earned. After out-braking himself trying to pass Norris, Ricciardo re-entered the track almost right on the apex, forcing the McLaren driver to take evasive action, and was behind Kimi before driving off-track in order to get around him, which is the definition of gaining an advantage. And before you ask, no this isn’t remotely similar to Vettel’s – he tried to make a few passes, and decided to ignore track limits in order to make them stick. Props for trying, though – this race needed some excitement!

I’m not sure what’s more shocking, that Ferrari had a “plan F” for Sebastian Vettel, or that they actually managed to execute it successfully – first time for everything, I suppose.

Props to McLaren for a very strong performance all weekend. A shame about Lando’s hydraulic issue, but there’s no doubting they’re the midfield team to beat.

Driver of the Day: Lewis Hamilton

So dominant it was boring, the championship leader made everyone – including his teammate – look like they were racing in a different category.

Worst of the Day: Pierre Gasly

A driver already under heavy fire for his performances this year, Gasly certainly didn’t do himself any favours with his dismal showing on Sunday. Barely in the points, and a lap down on his teammate, it’s simply unacceptable.

Quote of the Day:

“No regrets. I tried. Would rather that than be a peasant and watch.” – Daniel Ricciardo, neither a fan of his penalty, nor the feudal system, apparently.

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VETTEL: OUR AIM WAS TO CLOSE THE GAP AND WE FAILED

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Sebastian Vettel has labelled the French Grand Prix weekend as a failure for Ferrari as Mercedes, led by Lewis Hamilton, once again romped to an unchallenged victory to make it eight out of eight so far this season.

Problems started for Vettel a day earlier after he botched qualifying and had to start from seventh. After surviving a relatively sedate first lap of Circuit Paul Ricard on Sunday, he got past the McLaren duo early on and toiled his way to fifth.

But it was clear that the SF90 lacked at least four tenths to their rivals which the German inadvertently (or not) pointed to the failed updates his team brought to France, “This weekend, the biggest aim was to close the gap as much as possible and we failed.”

“We have to understand why some of the bits we brought didn’t work and hopefully we can try again and the track layout in Austria next week will go our way.

“The track here is very hot, and the more grip you have the more you can look after your tyres and that seems to be favouring Mercedes more than us.”

Notably, Vettel pitted late in the race for fresh tyres and a shot at the one point for the fastest lap which he got but Hamilton also had a go on his well-worn rubber and was only two-hundredths of a second shy of the Ferrari driver’s best effort.

“Fastest lap was straight forward – it’s not the first time we’ve seen it. It was quite tight at the end, we seemed to have a problem with charging the battery in the last lap, otherwise it should’ve been a straight forward race.

“We know it’s straight forward in terms of speed – we are fast on the straights and not so much in the corners,” added Vettel after crossing the finish line a minute down on Hamilton.

On the day, the Briton banked maximum points for his efforts and now leads his rival in red by a daunting 76 points after eight rounds, having won six of them, while Vettel is going through a barren spell that has resulted in him not winning a race since Belgium almost ten months ago.

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HAMILTON: I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND IT’S BORING BUT DON’T BLAME DRIVERS

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Lewis Hamilton said Formula 1’s rule makers not drivers should take the blame for boring races, after Sunday’s French Grand Prix served up a strong contender for most soporific grand prix of the season so far.

“If you say that it’s boring… I totally understand it,” the Mercedes driver and five-times F1 World Champion told reporters after celebrating a processional sixth win in eight races and fourth in a row.

“Don’t point the fingers at the drivers because we don’t write the rules,” added the Briton, who last week attended a meeting in Paris of the teams and governing FIA to discuss future changes.

“(You) should put the pressure on the people who are at the head, who should be doing the job. I think they are trying to but for many, many years they’ve made bad decisions.”

Hamilton is now 36 points clear of his team mate Valtteri Bottas at the top of the standings, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel third overall and with 76 points to make up.

Those who had hoped for a close title battle are turning their thoughts to 2020, with Mercedes seemingly heading for an unprecedented sixth successive constructors’ and drivers’ title double.

The team have won the last 10 races in a row, with Hamilton triumphant in the last two of 2018, and dominated every practice session and every stage of qualifying at Le Castellet before leading every race lap.

Hamilton did not have to overtake anybody for race position and nor did he have to defend against a team mate who finished 18 seconds behind.

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff recognised fans would have a different view to those who lived the race from the pit wall with access to all the team radio conversations.

“It’s a different perspective when you sit in front of the TV and when you sit where I sit, when you hear all the things that need to be managed during the race,” he said.

“But I hear you. And from a fans’ perspective I get it. It’s very difficult for me to really tackle that,” added the Austrian.

“What would you do if you were in our shoes? You would continue relentlessly to push for performance. It’s what we do in all areas, but equally the fan in me sees races that are less enjoyable to watch.”

Hamilton was asked whether he was tempted to ‘showboat’, putting on a show for the fans, but he rejected that, “I think it’s really important for people to realise it’s not the drivers’ fault.”

“This is a constant cycle of Formula One for years and years and years… and it’s because the way (former F1 supremo) Bernie (Ecclestone) had it set up and the decisions they were making back then, it’s still the same. Until that management structure changes, it will continue to be the same, in my opinion.”

Wolff suggested Le Castellet’s Paul Ricard circuit was also part of the problem, “Paul Ricard has all the ingredients that we need in the south of France, it’s glamorous and it’s a fantastic venue.

“And maybe we just need to have a very long straight rather than a chicane in between to allow for more slipstreaming.

“I think if we get the rules right for 2021 in terms of aerodynamic efficiency and the turbulence that we create behind the cars, and look at some new exciting sporting regulations, I think these are the ingredients to make it a good show,” added the Mercedes team chief.

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