NBC Sports Network broadcasters Bob Varsha, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett talk about Sebastian Vettel’s strategy during his narrow victory in Malaysia. The crew also looks ahead at April’s F1 schedule, and more.
Fernando Alonso was happy to be the ‘best of the rest’ behind the three fastest teams over the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend after finishing seventh in every session.
McLaren enjoyed its strongest qualifying performance of the season as Alonso and teammate Jenson Button made it through to Q3.
Although Button’s race was ruined early on by a brake issue, Alonso rose to sixth in the first stintt before falling behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen as the race wore on.
The two-time world champion was left to settle for seventh at the flag – curiously, also his finishing position in FP1, FP2, FP3 and qualifying.
“Well, P7 has been my position all weekend!” Alonso said.
“It’s a pity we couldn’t improve this afternoon but still I think we were best of the rest today.
“Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari are out of reach at the moment for everyone – they’re on another level – so, in the other mini-championship we’re racing in, we were quite competitive and I feel we delivered the maximum we could today.
“There wasn’t much action in the race though. For us, it was a little bit of a boring afternoon at some points – not the usual Hungaroring show – and the only retirement, unfortunately, was Jenson.
“I’m happy about how the weekend went and hopefully we can keep this up progress. We’ve been more or less competitive here and at Silverstone, on two very different circuits, so I’m looking forward to next weekend at Hockenheim.”
Lewis Hamilton believes that the failure of the FIA stewards to penalize Nico Rosberg for completing part of his Hungary pole position lap under yellow flags sends the wrong message to young drivers.
Hamilton was forced to abandon his final Q3 lap on Saturday after Fernando Alonso’s spin sparked yellow flags.
Despite meeting the tail-end of the yellow flag period, Rosberg managed to complete his lap and go faster than Hamilton to snatch away pole position.
The stewards investigated Rosberg’s lap, but deemed he did slow down sufficiently to respect the yellow flags.
Speaking after winning Sunday’s race in Hungary, Hamilton aired his criticism of the decision, believing it sets a bad precedent.
“Well the stewards needs to come up with some kind of solution,” Hamilton said.
“The whole 23 years of racing, it has been ‘if it’s yellow flag, you slow down’ and if it’s double yellow flag, you be prepared to stop and Nico was doing the same speed at the apex as I was doing on the previous timed lap.
“If there happened to be a car that was spun or a marshal on the track, it would have been pretty hard for him to have slowed down in that case.
“The fact that he didn’t get penalised for it means that we need to be careful because the message we’re sending not only to the drivers here but also to the drivers in the lower categories is that it’s now possible for you to lose only one tenth of a second in a double waved yellow flag section which is one of the most dangerous scenarios with the double yellow flags.
“They need to clear that up because before it was two-tenths that you were meant to lose with one yellow flag and half a second with two yellow flags.
“It wasn’t the case yesterday and there was no penalty, so going into the next race, we could be battling for pole position and we see double yellow flags and we know we only have to do a small lift and lose one tenth of a second and we’ll be fine and go purple in the sector.
“So that’s why it does need to be clarified and I’m sure Charlie [Whiting, FIA race director] and the stewards are going to do so because it needs to be clear.”
Rosberg took full advantage of his right to reply, defending his actions.
“Thank you for making that statement, so now I’m going to put my response,” Rosberg said, patting Hamilton gently on the shoulder.
“What you have to do with a double yellow is significantly reduce your speed and make sure you go safe.
“I went 20 kilometres per hour slower into that corner, 20 kilometres per hour is a different world in an F1 car. 20 kilometres per hour, you are going proper slow. Everything is safe.
“That’s how I did my speed and lifted off 30 meters before my braking point, so I was just rolling there, 20 kilometres per hour slower until I got to the apex. Then of course when you’re in the apex, I would have a much tighter line because I went in slow and then so I could accelerate out again.
“So definitely I significantly reduced my speed and that’s what it says you need to do and that’s why for the stewards that was completely acceptable.It was very very obvious what I did, very clear and of course on a drying track you’re going to get massively faster every lap.
“It’s not like the track was consistent. On a drying track, it’s irrelevant what the sector time was because you’re going to get so much quicker every time you go out there because there’s wet patches and when they dry, you just go so much quicker.
“And so in that segment, I was slower, where there was the yellow flag but of course in the big sector, yeah, I’m quicker because the track is getting quicker and I’m pushing in all the other corners.
“So it was a pretty clear case for the stewards and that’s why I didn’t get any penalty.”
Clear or not, expect this to be cited as an example in future debates over yellow flag periods.
It was like old times in Sunday’s final round of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway near Denver.
For the first time in over a year, the two winningest drivers in nitro fuel history reached the winner’s circle.
John Force, winningest driver in NHRA annals, earned his 144th career Funny Car victory, while Tony Schumacher, winningest driver in the Top Fuel ranks, earned his 81st career win in a dragster.
Also earning wins at the Morrison, Colorado track were Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Force (3.965 seconds/319.45 mph) defeated daughter Courtney (3.963/314.75) in the Funny Car final. Not only was it John Force’s first win since June 2015, it was also the seventh of his career at Denver.
“I didn’t have a monkey on my back, it was a gorilla,” Force said in a NHRA media release. “I needed this real bad. I told Courtney I love her, but I am giving this everything I’ve got.
“Let’s face it, we’ve been getting beat up lately by the Schumacher and Kalitta teams. It’s a great day to come here and look like we know what we’re doing.”
At 67, the elder Force becomes the oldest driver to win a NHRA Funny Car race.
“Let’s face it, the competition is the best I’ve ever seen,” said Force, who became the first Funny Car driver to ever break the four-second barrier at Bandimere Speedway. “It’s tough to race my little girl there and it was a close one. I can do this game. I love it. I don’t have anywhere to go. I am going to keep doing this. I want to keep building this sport.”
As for Schumacher, he won for the third time in his career at Bandimere, notching his first win since early July 2015 (at his home track, Route 66 Raceway, in suburban Chicago).
Schumacher (3.802 seconds at 324.28 mph) defeated Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown (5.199/144.75) after the latter slowed at half-track in the final round to earn the victory.
“To win one of these trophies you have to beat some bad dudes, and we beat a bunch of them today from Doug Kalitta to Antron Brown,” said Schumacher, who outran Kalitta in round one, top qualifier Steve Torrence in the quarterfinals and Clay Millican in the semis to advance to the final round meeting with Brown. “I’ve enjoyed great moments in racing during my career, but coming back from a huge deficit when people have counted you out like we have done this weekend is the most satisfying to me.”
But there was good news for defending series champ Brown, even in defeat: he remains in the lead of the Top Fuel standings, holding a 57-point edge over second-ranked Doug Kalitta.
In Pro Stock, Johnson (6.982 seconds at 197.34 mph) won for a record seventh time at Bandimere (along with three other runner-up finishes), defeating Vincent Nobile (7.037/196.82).
“We stunk the place up all weekend during qualifying,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t have given us a one percent chance to win all weekend. The magic up here is just on our side for some reason.”
Johnson becomes the first driver other than points leaders Jason Line or Greg Anderson to win a Pro Stock race this season. Line and Anderson combined to win the first 13 races of the 24-race season.
“I am sure I am speaking for everyone in the pits, but to break that juggernaut is big,” Johnson said. “We might have got a break or two along the way, but I guess that was that mountain magic. It was great to win here for all the great Denver and Mopar fans and to get the win on live TV on FOX.”
Sunday’s race was a milestone in NHRA history as it marked the first time in the sanctioning body’s 65 years that a race was televised on national network television (FOX TV).
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hines (7.134 seconds at 188.33 mph) became the winningest two-wheel rider in history, earning his 45th career triumph, defeating teammate Eddie Krawiec (7.148/187.21).
In addition, it was Hines’ third win of the season.
“Coming back to win on the mountain, it means a lot,” Hines said. “My team has had my motorcycle really dialed in right now. It is our third final in a row and I am just riding the wave. I don’t think I’ve ever put eight runs like that together in a weekend. The bike is such a joy to ride right now.”
The annual “Western Swing” continues next weekend (July 29-31) at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.
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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:
TOP FUEL: 1. Tony Schumacher; 2. Antron Brown; 3. Clay Millican; 4. J.R. Todd; 5. Shawn Langdon; 6. Richie Crampton; 7. Brittany Force; 8. Steve Torrence; 9. Doug Kalitta; 10. Scott Palmer; 11. Chris Karamesines; 12. Bill Litton; 13. Terry Haddock; 14. Rob Passey; 15. Leah Pritchett; 16. Terry McMillen.
FUNNY CAR: 1. John Force; 2. Courtney Force; 3. Robert Hight; 4. Del Worsham; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 6. Matt Hagan; 7. John Hale; 8. Ron Capps; 9. Jack Beckman; 10. Alexis DeJoria; 11. Todd Simpson; 12. Chad Head; 13. Cruz Pedregon; 14. Jim Campbell; 15. Jeff Diehl; 16. Tim Wilkerson.
PRO STOCK: 1. Allen Johnson; 2. Vincent Nobile; 3. Jason Line; 4. Greg Anderson; 5. Bo Butner; 6. Alex Laughlin; 7. Erica Enders; 8. Chris McGaha; 9. Shane Gray; 10. Jeg Coughlin; 11. Richie Stevens; 12. Drew Skillman; 13. Deric Kramer; 14. Matt Hartford; 15. Alan Prusiensky.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines; 2. Eddie Krawiec; 3. Jerry Savoie; 4. LE Tonglet; 5. Angelle Sampey; 6. Chip Ellis; 7. Cory Reed; 8. Matt Smith; 9. Hector Arana Jr; 10. Shawn Gann; 11. Tyler Fisher; 12. Karen Stoffer; 13. Angie Smith; 14. Michael Ray; 15. Scotty Pollacheck; 16. Hector Arana.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Top Fuel: Tony Schumacher, 3.802 seconds, 324.28 mph def. Antron Brown, 5.199 seconds, 144.75 mph.
Funny Car: John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.965, 319.45 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.963, 314.75.
Pro Stock: Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.982, 197.39 def. Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 7.037, 196.82.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.134, 188.33 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.148, 187.21.
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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:
ROUND ONE — Tony Schumacher, 3.788, 321.19 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.832, 320.74; Clay Millican, 3.821, 316.23 def. Terry Haddock, 4.284, 286.80; Antron Brown, 3.870, 308.28 def. Rob Passey, 4.396, 208.91; Steve Torrence, 3.843, 321.35 def. Chris Karamesines, 4.089, 297.02; Richie Crampton, 4.113, 280.37 def. Bill Litton, 4.178, 280.49; Brittany Force, 3.829, 317.05 def. Terry McMillen, 5.684, 125.96; J.R. Todd, 3.844, 318.62 def. Scott Palmer, 4.019, 282.78; Shawn Langdon, 4.288, 194.97 def. Leah Pritchett, 4.877, 181.45;
QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.840, 317.05 def. Langdon, 3.831, 316.90; Millican, 3.857, 313.80 def. Force, 4.204, 271.95; Todd, 3.841, 322.11 def. Crampton, 3.862, 312.57; Schumacher, 4.083, 275.73 def. Torrence, 4.381, 194.49;
SEMIFINALS — Schumacher, 3.839, 319.90 def. Millican, 3.841, 317.49; Brown, 3.826, 307.86 def. Todd, 3.915, 274.05;
FINAL — Schumacher, 3.802, 324.28 def. Brown, 5.199, 144.75.
ROUND ONE — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.047, 316.45 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.078, 301.47; Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.972, 315.42 def. Jim Campbell, Toyota Camry, 5.964, 126.59; John Force, Camaro, 4.001, 312.35 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 6.219, 94.02; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.024, 317.12 def. Todd Simpson, Camaro, 4.411, 230.57; John Hale, Charger, 4.303, 240.64 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.324, 232.71; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.992, 320.58 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 5.846, 123.67; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.039, 318.62 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, Broke – No Show; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.041, 306.40 def. Chad Head, Camry, 5.001, 158.93;
QUARTERFINALS — J. Force, 4.038, 310.98 def. Hagan, 4.050, 317.64; C. Force, 4.016, 315.56 def. Johnson Jr., 4.032, 315.71; Hight, 3.997, 322.81 def. Hale, 4.161, 289.38; Worsham, 4.052, 317.42 def. Capps, 4.399, 213.27;
SEMIFINALS — J. Force, 4.005, 316.60 def. Worsham, 4.054, 315.78; C. Force, 3.937, 322.04 def. Hight, Foul – Red Light;
FINAL — J. Force, 3.965, 319.45 def. C. Force, 3.963, 314.75.
ROUND ONE — Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 7.000, 197.13 def. Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 7.026, 195.62; Allen Johnson, Dart, 7.000, 196.59 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 7.047, 197.74; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.995, 197.22 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 7.054, 195.73; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.945, 198.47 def. Richie Stevens, Dart, 7.033, 195.85; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 15.319, 55.23 was unopposed; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 7.025, 196.22 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.992, 198.12; Erica Enders, Dart, 6.970, 197.42 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 7.989, 188.31; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.959, 197.94 def. Deric Kramer, Dart, 7.049, 195.14;
QUARTERFINALS — Nobile, 7.031, 196.50 def. Laughlin, Foul – Red Light; Anderson, 6.998, 197.25 def. McGaha, 7.020, 196.24; Johnson, 7.000, 196.53 def. Enders, 7.006, 195.62; Line, 6.977, 197.57 def. Butner, 6.979, 197.86; SEMIFINALS — Johnson, 6.986, 196.42 def. Anderson, 6.968, 197.19; Nobile, 16.014, 52.83 def. Line, Foul – Red Light; FINAL — Johnson, 6.982, 197.39 def. Nobile, 7.037, 196.82.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
ROUND ONE — Cory Reed, Buell, 7.234, 183.49 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.278, 184.09; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.204, 185.89 def. Michael Ray, Buell, 7.320, 182.26; Chip Ellis, Buell, 15.210, 93.84 def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, Foul – Red Light; Angelle Sampey, Buell, 7.204, 183.49 def. Hector Arana, Buell, Foul – Red Light; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.230, 184.09 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.285, 183.82; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.234, 184.77 def. Tyler Fisher, Suzuki, 7.284, 182.90; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.213, 184.90 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 7.370, 179.85; Matt Smith, 7.251, 183.67 def. Angie Smith, 7.314, 180.00;
QUARTERFINALS — Savoie, 7.221, 184.35 def. Sampey, 7.299, 184.35; Tonglet, 7.304, 182.33 def. M.Smith, 16.874, 44.19; Krawiec, 7.245, 184.37 def. Ellis, 7.317, 183.42; Hines, 7.234, 184.77 def. Reed, 12.995, 60.23;
SEMIFINALS — Krawiec, 7.218, 186.23 def. Savoie, 7.227, 184.42; Hines, 7.151, 187.34 def. Tonglet, 7.228, 184.90;
FINAL — Hines, 7.134, 188.33 def. Krawiec, 7.148, 187.21.
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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:
Top Fuel: 1. Antron Brown, 1,145; 2. Doug Kalitta, 1,088; 3. Steve Torrence, 982; 4. Brittany Force, 953; 5. Tony Schumacher, 916; 6. Shawn Langdon, 800; 7. J.R. Todd, 799; 8. Clay Millican, 681; 9. Richie Crampton, 660; 10. Leah Pritchett, 553.
Funny Car: 1. Ron Capps, 1,120; 2. Courtney Force, 998; 3. Jack Beckman, 976; 4. Matt Hagan, 881; 5. (tie) Robert Hight, 877; Del Worsham, 877; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 855; 8. John Force, 821; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 793; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 733.
Pro Stock: 1. Jason Line, 1,548; 2. Greg Anderson, 1,466; 3. Bo Butner, 955; 4. Allen Johnson, 885; 5. Vincent Nobile, 758; 6. Drew Skillman, 753; 7. Chris McGaha, 661; 8. Shane Gray, 658; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 613; 10. Alex Laughlin, 595.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Eddie Krawiec, 742; 2. Andrew Hines, 633; 3. Angelle Sampey, 534; 4. Jerry Savoie, 500; 5. Chip Ellis, 386; 6. Hector Arana, 375; 7. LE Tonglet, 364; 8. Matt Smith, 290; 9. Steve Johnson, 268; 10. Michael Ray, 262.
The LMP2 grid will grow by one for the next FIA World Endurance Championship race, the 6 Hours of Mexico City, with the confirmation of the Greaves Motorsport Gibson 015S Nissan.
Greaves will run the lineup of Roberto Gonzalez, brother of race promoter and RGR Sport by Morand team owner and co-driver Ricardo Gonzalez, along with Bruno Junqueira and Luis Diaz.
Junqueira and Roberto Gonzalez have been co-drivers in the past with the Rocketsports (RSR) team in the Prototype Challenge class of the American Le Mans Series.
Diaz (right) is another prototype class veteran, with recent PC experience (8Star Motorsports and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports) added to his LMP2 days with Fernandez Racing.
All three of them also competed in Champ Car World Series races in Mexico City, with Gonzalez and Diaz part of a six-Mexican driver entry in the 2003 race (Adrian Fernandez, Michel Jourdain Jr., Mario Dominguez and Rodolfo Lavin).
Ricardo Gonzalez co-drives the No. 43 RGR Sport Ligier JS P2 Nissan with Bruno Senna and Filipe Albuquerque in the WEC.