Webber predicting a tight start to 2013 season

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Red Bull Racing driver Mark Webber is predicting a tight Australian Grand Prix when the Formula One season kicks off in Melbourne in two weeks time.

“Looking at the first race, I think it’s going to be a tight grand prix. There are a lot of quick cars out there and hopefully we have one of them.

“However, Melbourne is a very particular race, with very specific demands, so we’ll treat it as one race, then go to Malaysia and see how things shake up there.”

Despite a mediocre final session in Barcelona yesterday that saw him finish in seventh place, over two seconds behind quickest man Lewis Hamilton, Webber was pleased with his pre-season performance.

“I think we’ve done well and we have made a step forward. As I’ve said before it’s very difficult to see a real pecking order. We’ve just always been focused on what we have to do and not really looked too hard at anyone else.

“The important thing now is just to get out to Melbourne and get on with the racing.”

With just one year left on his contract, 2013 is an important season for Mark Webber. He will be keen on proving that he can match triple champion teammate Sebastian Vettel, but if the rivalry within Red Bull becomes too intense, it would most probably be Webber who would be shown the door at the end of the season.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.