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.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
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16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

Force’s daughter, Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, suffered a hard wreck at Pomona, but recovered in time to race this weekend in Phoenix.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

Follow @JerryBonkowski