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2021 24 Hours of Le Mans delayed until mid-August

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No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE race car at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans

Organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans announced Thursday that this year’s running of the French endurance classic has been delayed until the weekend starting August 21.

The race, which serves as the highlight event of the World Endurance Championship, was originally scheduled to run the weekend starting June 12.

The organizers decided to delay the race as by the August date there is a better chance a public audience will be allowed to attend.

Last year’s race was held without spectators and sticking to the original June date for this year’s race would likely have meant another year without the public, based on the current outlook for Covid-19 restrictions in France.

No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE race car at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans

“Holding the 24 Hours of Le Mans behind closed doors for the second year running would be unthinkable,” Pierre Fillon, president of race organizer ACO, said in a statement. “We are therefore doing all we can to avoid that happening and to give competitors a clear view of the whole season.”

While the Le Mans race has lacked some excitement in recent years due to Toyota being the only automaker in the premier LMP1 class, things will heat up this year with the new Le Mans Hypercar class replacing LMP1 as the top class.

In LMH, Toyota will go up against America’s Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and Germany’s ByKolles this year. Peugeot is set to join the fray most likely in 2022 and Ferrari has said it will be there in 2023. Porsche will also be there in 2023, albeit in the separate LMDh class sanctioned by IMSA.

Pre-season testing for the 2021 WEC season is scheduled for March 30-31 at Portugal’s Portimao racetrack. The opening round will be held on April 4, also at Portimao.

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Autos

2022 Audi Q4 E-Tron, 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, Mercedes-Benz AMG One: This Week’s Top Photos

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2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

Audi expanded its lineup of electric vehicles with the reveal of the new Q4 E-Tron and Q4 Sportback E-Tron. The handsome compact crossover duo arrive at dealerships later this year and should offer around 250 miles on a charge.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS

Another new electric vehicle in the headlines this week was the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS, and it did not disappoint. The svelte electric sedan combines an S-Class grade interior with impressive technology, and this should help it attract well-heeled buyers looking to make the switch from gasoline to electrons.

Nissan GT-R Nismo Special Edition

Nissan GT-R Nismo Special Edition

Nissan is close to launching a redesigned Z, but the automaker’s other sports car, the GT-R, will soldier on in its current form for a little while longer. This week, Nissan introduced a special version of the GT-R Nismo range-topper. It features a unique look and upgraded engine internals.

2021 Volkswagen Arteon

2021 Volkswagen Arteon

Volkswagen updated the Arteon for 2021, adding new technology and styling tweaks that push the svelte sedan even closer to near-luxury status. This week we posted up our review of the car.

2021 Toyota Supra

2021 Toyota Supra

Another car we tested was the 2021 Toyota Supra, specifically the 6-cylinder. The car’s got gobs of power, but the same enthusiasts who are eager for this might find the lack of a manual gearbox unforgivable.

Mercedes-Benz AMG One spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Mercedes-Benz AMG One spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Development of Mercedes-Benz AMG’s Formula One-powered hypercar is almost complete, with prototypes this week hitting the Nürburgring for the first time. While the One may be delayed, the wait will definitely be worth it for the 275 future owners.

High-riding Porsche 911 prototype spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

High-riding Porsche 911 prototype spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Another car testing on the ‘Ring was a high-riding Porsche 911. Porsche has said such a car would be a good idea, and now it looks like one is coming.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

And finally, Hyundai revealed its 2022 Santa Cruz. The compact pickup truck is related to the Hyundai Tucson, and we’ll see it at dealerships this summer.

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Filling in for the Chinese Grand Prix

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Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Imola)

Round two of the 2021 Formula One World Championship takes us to historic Imola in Italy this weekend, where a special race, the Made in Italy and Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, is being held.

The race fills in for the usual Chinese Grand Prix which was canceled this year due to disruptions caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This will be the second year in a row that the Imola racetrack, officially the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, hosts an F1 race.

The anti-clockwise circuit, which in previous times has hosted the Italian and San Marino Grands Prix, has been in continuous use and updated considerably over the years. For instance, the old Variante Bassa is gone and the long straight heading into Tamburello is now broken up by two right-hand corners. More run-off areas have been added, especially at Variante Alta.

As for the track itself, it stretches 3.08 miles and is quite narrow in places, which adds to the challenge of overtaking and puts an emphasis on strategy. Although it was given fresh asphalt prior to last year’s race, it is still quite bumpy and there are some big curbs, placing notable demands on the cars and drivers.

Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Imola)

Just over 70 percent of a lap is taken at full-throttle, the third-highest percentage of the 2021 F1 tracks. This includes 15 seconds of foot-to-the-floor lap time from the exit of the final corner to the braking zone for Turn 2.

Looking at the weather forecast, we should be in for fine conditions for most of the weekends. However, there’s a chance we could see some rain during Sunday’s race. Pirelli has nominated its mid-range C2, C3 and C4 tires for the race.

Following the first practice session on Friday, Mercedes-Benz AMG’s Valtteri Bottas was the quickest, followed by fellow Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. Rounding out the top three was Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen who hopefully will challenge the Mercedes duo for victory like he did in the season opener in Bahrain.

Going into Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race, Hamilton leads the 2021 Drivers’ Championship with 25 points. Verstappen is second with 18 points and Bottas is third with 16 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 41 points, versus the 28 of Red Bull and 18 of McLaren. Last year’s winner at Imola was Hamilton driving for Mercedes.

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Electric Ferrari locked in for 2025

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John Elkann

Ferrari will unveil an electric vehicle in 2025, Chairman John Elkann said on Thursday during the company’s annual general meeting.

The news of an electric Ferrari doesn’t come as a huge surprise as patent drawings filed by Ferrari for a modular electric drive system were discovered last year.

Elkann didn’t provide any details on the vehicle but former CEO Louis Camilleri in 2019 said the company was studying the potential for a grand tourer-style car, suggesting it won’t be a supercar like the upcoming Lotus Evija or Rimac C_Two.

Camilleri, who stepped down from Ferrari last year due to personal reasons, also said in 2019 that an electric Ferrari would eventually come, though only after 2025.

John Elkann

During Ferrari’s annual general meeting, Elkann also said that the search for Camilleri’s replacement was ongoing, and that the lucky man or woman will give an update on Ferrari’s future plans during a capital markets day presentation to be held in 2022.

Recent rumors have pointed to Ferrari’s first EV being a crossover, which does make some sense as a heavy battery would be less likely to negatively affect the performance of a crossover compared to a supercar. Ferrari next year will launch its first crossover, the Purosangue, and according to the rumors the platform of the high-riding Prancing Horse has been designed to support electric powertrains.

Ferrari in the past has flip-flopped on the idea of launching an electric car but stricter emission rules and changing market trends has likely convinced the automaker of the need for having one. The company has previously cited a lack of suitable battery technology as the main hurdle.

While an electric Ferrari is still a few years off, the company will focus on plug-in hybrid technology in the interim. The company has just launched the plug-in hybrid SF90 Stradale and targets a 60-percent electrified lineup by 2022. The company is also looking into more alternatives, such as using hydrogen or biofuels.

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