Vettel not feeling the pressure

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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.

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.

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