Three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has said that he does not feel the pressure of defending his titles heading into the opening round of the 2013 Formula One season.
“The secret is not to think about what happened the last three years,” Vettel said in an interview, before going on to reveal that he has felt less pressure since winning his first championship in 2010.
“After that, you don’t have that pressure anymore. You have proved to yourself more than anyone else that you can do so.”
Vettel has a mixed record at the Australian Grand Prix, with his highlight coming in 2011 when he won the race with ease. Last year, he finished in second place following a fortuitous safety car period, but crashes in 2009 and 2010 will undoubtedly be playing on the Vettel’s mind during the weekend.
The Red Bull driver also spoke about the new Pirelli tires which have been designed to be more aggressive in 2013, requiring greater management and care.
“In winter testing, we all suffered the same problems: the tires didn’t last. We hope it gets better here, otherwise it could be quite funny.”
Sergio Perez predicted in Barcelona that Australia could see as many as four stops, and with Pirelli electing to provide their softest tire for the weekend, it will be important to pick the right strategy to be in with a chance of winning in Melbourne. Vettel may not show signs of cracking under the pressure of three championships, but should he fail to reach the podium on Sunday, questions will be raised regarding the pace of his Red Bull RB9 for the season ahead.
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.