“I didn’t do it deliberately” claims Vettel

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After passing his teammate against the wishes of Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel has apologized to Mark Webber following the Malaysian Grand Prix.

“I did make a big mistake today,” said Vettel after the race.

“We should have stayed in the positions we were in. I didn’t ignore it [the order to hold position] on purpose but I messed up the situation.

“It doesn’t help his feelings right now. Apologies to Mark and now the result is there, but all I can say is that I didn’t do it deliberately.”

Vettel had trailed Webber since the first round of stops in Malaysia, but he closed on his teammate after the final pit stops towards the end of the race. Despite the team telling him to back off, the German driver took the lead from his teammate and then set off into the distance.

The tension between the two drivers was evident on the podium, and in the ‘cool down’ room after the race, Webber was seen shouting “multi 21” at Vettel, believed to be the code used by Red Bull when they want to hold position.

As well as apologizing to Webber, Vettel also admitted that he put the 1-2 finish for the team at risk.

“I took quite a lot of risk to pass him and I should have behaved better.”

Webber made his disappointment clear at the end of the race, and Red Bull will be keen on repairing their drivers’ relationship during the three week break before the Chinese Grand Prix. However, playing ‘happy families’ is the last thing on Webber’s mind, who is keen on returning to his native Australia during the break.

“It is three weeks to the next race so we are fortunate,” said Webber. “I will catch some waves in Australia.”

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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.