Vettel pleased to have extended championship lead

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Sebastian Vettel may not have won for a second time around the streets of Monaco today, but the defending world champion is pleased to have extended his lead at the top of the championship after finishing P2 in the race.

“I think overall I’m very happy, pleased with the result,” Vettel said in the post-race press conference. “We know that it’s very difficult to overtake here.”

Vettel’s best chance to pass the Mercedes drivers came off the start, where he got away well and made a move down the inside of both Silver Arrows. However, he could not find a way past due to the lack of room, which he believes cost him dearly today.

“The start of the race, there was a fantastic start but no room. I think I could have gone past both Mercedes but I didn’t have the room and had to lift, and then Mark came. You expect two Silver Arrows in front of you; today they were silver buses going for a cruise!”

Mercedes did enter tire management mode early on, but this paid off as Rosberg waltzed to his first win in Monaco. However, Vettel did manage to get past Lewis Hamilton thanks to the safety car, and he was delighted with the team result that saw Mark Webber join him on the podium.

“I think we can be happy with the result. Great achievement for the team again. We seem to like this place in the last couple of years.”

Red Bull may have missed out on a fourth consecutive victory in Monaco, but Vettel is pleased to have extended his championship lead to 21 points after Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen could only finish 7th and 10th respectively.

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.