Tire woes stop Vettel from challenging for win

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Sebastian Vettel has lamented his tires for preventing him from challenging Kimi Raikkonen for victory at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

“We had a good day today with a pole and a podium – but in the race we were a little too aggressive with the tires and lost the front and the rears, while others did a little better.”

Having taken pole position in qualifying, Vettel’s rear tires were evidently worn as he sat on the grid, but he managed a good start to stay in the lead ahead of Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

However, as the race wore on, Vettel was hindered by two-stopping Adrian Sutil which caused the defending champion to be too aggressive on his tires. After losing out to Alonso in the second round of stops, Vettel could not reclaim the position as his Pirellis became increasingly difficult to work with. He did not hide his disappointment about finishing third, but the German driver looked to take the positives from the weekend.

“I think you’re always a little disappointed when you start first and don’t finish first, but overall it was a good weekend for us. We didn’t see Kimi on the track, he was too quick and Fernando jumped us at a vulnerable time – but we can be happy with third.”

Teammate Mark Webber started alongside Vettel on the front row, but following a poor start he finished down in sixth place. Red Bull will be disappointed not to have continued their end-of-2012 form in Australia, but there are signs of pace in the RB9.

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Power, Newgarden, Dixon fastest in first of 2 IndyCar practices today at Barber Motorsports Park

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Will Power was fastest in Friday’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in 1:07.5987 minutes at 122.488 mph in the 45-minute practice session.

Even though he spun off the course during his session, Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden still managed to be second-fastest (121.919 mph at 1:07.9141 minutes), followed by Scott Dixon (121.296 mph/1:082627), Max Chilton (121.251 mph/1:08.2882) and Ed Jones (121.215 mph/1:09.5692).

 

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud (121.208 mph/1:08.3122), Jordan King (121.113 mph/1:083661), Graham Rahal (121.059 mph/1:08.3964), St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (121.029 mph/1:08.4131) and rookie Zach Veach (121.014 mph/1:08.4216).

Here’s the full speed chart:

Incidents:

* Early in the session, Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi ran off the track and into the grass, striking a small sign, but was able to get back on-track. However, Rossi was only able to complete 10 laps, relegating him to 20th-fastest in the 23-car field.

* Moments later, it appeared the rear brakes locked up on Newgarden heading into Turn 5, spinning him into the gravel trap. He was able to get going and returned to the pits for service and was back on-track with less than four minutes remaining in the session.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The second practice session of the day will begin at 3:50 p.m. ET. A third practice will take part Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET. The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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