F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Qualifying

Vettel: Hamilton was exceptional today

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Sebastian Vettel has applauded Lewis Hamilton for an “exceptional” performance in qualifying after the British driver produced a stunning lap in the final stages of Q3 to snatch pole from the defending world champion by 0.038 seconds.

Vettel had looked set to claim his fourth pole of the season after opening up a 0.8 second lead during the final stage of qualifying, but Hamilton responded in emphatic style and Vettel could not fault the Briton’s performance.

“I think Lewis did an exceptional job today if you look at the gap to Nico [Rosberg],” Vettel explained in the post-qualifying press conference. “You have to be fair and respect that. I’m not arguing with that.”

In terms of his own performance, Vettel does not believe that he could have done much more to stop Hamilton from taking pole.

“There wasn’t much missing, I was pretty happy with both laps. Maybe on the second try I was losing out a little bit in the middle sector.

“But it’s stupid now to sit here and say maybe we should’ve done this or that.”

Unusually, Vettel’s quickest time came during his first run which meant that he was expected to beat Hamilton’s time during his second flying lap. Instead, the Red Bull driver failed to improve and he will start 2nd tomorrow as a result. Hamilton has already admitted that Mercedes may struggle on the long runs, potentially handing the advantage back to Red Bull on Sunday.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Takuma Sato

Takuma Sato
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series with 14th-placed Takuma Sato, driver of the flagship No. 14 car for A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

Takuma Sato, No. 14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda

  • 2014: 18th Place, Best Finish 4th, 2 Poles, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 66 Laps Led, 12.6 Avg. Start, 15.5 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 14th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 4th, 1 Podium, 1 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 46 Laps Led, 14.0 Avg. Start, 13.8 Avg. Finish

Sato was better than most people will have realized in 2015, and he didn’t have a lot of results to go along with what was probably his best season in three with A.J. Foyt Enterprises. After finishing 17th in points in 2013 and 18th last year, he improved to 14th this year. The problem for the Japanese fan favorite is that in a field this deep, it becomes really hard to stand out, and 14th doesn’t necessarily scream “look at me” on paper.

But perhaps that was a good thing. Sato, who’s been maligned for his DNFs in the past, had only four in 2015 (down from eight in 2013 and seven last year), and only two via accidents (Fontana, Iowa). Sage Karam opted to put the blame on Sato for their first lap contact at the Indianapolis 500, but with Karam the meat in a Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay sandwich, realistically it was a racing incident where all drivers needed to give and take. Even with the contact, Sato rebounded to a respectable 13th place finish.

Sato’s best result was a second in Detroit race two, which provided a welcome return to the podium for the first time since Brazil 2013, when he lost the win at the last corner. Like last year, he ended the season with back-to-back top-10 results, sixth and eighth at Pocono and Sonoma. More impressively, in a year when Honda drivers struggled to make the Firestone Fast Six, Sato and Hunter-Reay were the only Honda drivers to make it twice.

Perhaps having a second car aided Sato, who stepped up as team leader in the Larry Foyt-led team with second-year driver Jack Hawksworth on board. He’s been on a single car team for the last three years, two at Foyt and in his single exciting year at Rahal Letterman Lanigan in 2012. Sato’s done a very nice job of correcting course the last two years, and is a steady fixture with Foyt, planning to continue once again into 2016.

Raikkonen learned “pretty much nothing” in Sochi practice

xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 9, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.
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Kimi Raikkonen made no secret of his frustration following practice for the Russian Grand Prix on Friday after losing the majority of the day’s running at the Sochi Autodrom.

A diesel spill on the track ahead of the first free practice session cost the field 30 minutes of running, while heavy rain made much of FP2 a fruitless exercise.

Speaking after Friday’s sessions, Raikkonen admitted that Ferrari had learned very little due to the conditions, but said that the team will try to make the best of the situation.

“Today the weather conditions were not very nice,” Raikkonen said. “We could not get much running and we learned pretty much nothing.

“The first practice was dry, but at the beginning of the session there was an issue with the tarmac surface and they had to wash it away. So we lost time and when we got to the track some parts were still wet.

“In the second session, the weather turned out to be a bit tricky and it rained most of the time. It’s one of those days you do absolutely nothing but that’s how it goes.

“It was not ideal today but it was the same for everybody. Hopefully tomorrow it will be dry, and we’ll see how the tires work. We’ll do our normal program and try to make the best out of it.”

Teammate Sebastian Vettel finished third in FP1 and second in FP2, but thinks he may struggle to find any rhythm ahead of qualifying on Saturday after losing most of today’s running.

“Today we did learn a few things, but nothing that we can really use for the weekend,” Vettel said. “The first impression of the car is good, but I can’t really say a lot more as we really didn’t get enough track action today.

“This morning we couldn’t drive much as some of the corners were covered with diesel fuel, and it took a while to clean it all up. In the afternoon it started raining, but tomorrow and Sunday it is supposed to be dry!

“In general, it won’t be easy to get into the right rhythm, as the track tomorrow will feel the same like yesterday – that is, green and with poor grip. Usually, you use the Friday to lay some rubber down, but that was not possible today.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra this weekend. For full broadcast details, click here.