Vettel feels RB9 is ‘a step up’

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Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel believes that his new car, the RB9,  is “a step up” from its predecessor that took him to a third title last season.

“What is important is that the car is relaible and works well and the speed seems to be there too. We have a little more grip in the fast corners, this was striking right form the outset. I think it’s a step up form the RB8.”

In an interview with in-house publication The Red Bulletin, Vettel also spoke about the new Pirelli tires for 2013, although he did admit that little would be confirmed until the first practice session in Melbourne.

“We had certain expectations [of the tires], also partly based on the data we have been receiving from Pirelli. These expectations appear to be confirmed, but we won’t know until Melbourne.

“I think that the quicker lap times at the tests can be attributed to the new car as well as the Pirelli tires.”

Vettel was also asked about his driving style, as throughout his career he is yet to suffer a major accident.

“You should always have respect. That has never changed.”

Red Bull struggled to perform in winter testing, finishing as the seventh quickest team at the final test in Barcelona. Harking back to last season, the team will know that a slow start could lead to a highly-impressive tail end of the season, but Vettel will still be hoping to take the win in Australia.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.