Vettel: Team effort gave us luxury of controlling race

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Sebastian Vettel has thanked his team for all of their hard work and efforts after dominating the Singapore Grand Prix to win the race by over thirty seconds from Fernando Alonso.

Vettel went wire-to-wire at the Marina Bay Street Circuit as well as setting the fastest lap, but a poor start and a safety car period midway through the race very nearly scuppered the German’s hopes of winning a third consecutive grand prix in Singapore. However, the pace of the car meant that Vettel could control the race from the front, and he attributed this luxury to the hard work that the team has put in.

“It doesn’t happen just like that, it’s surely not easy to get everything right all weekend,” Vettel said. “I’m extremely happy though I think we can all be extremely proud. I know how much work is going in. There’s a lot of team effort going in and if we have results like today where we have the luxury to control the race then it’s because of the late hours and commitment that goes in from everybody.”

However, a poor start from Vettel meant that Nico Rosberg made his way into the lead at turn one, but the Mercedes driver could not hold the position heading through the second corner, allowing the defending world champion back into a lead that he never lost.

“The lights went off, I thought I reacted pretty well but it was a bit lazy to get off the line,” Vettel admitted. “I thought that Nico might still be there and he was side-by-side, so I had to give him room. Fortunately he was braking quite deep into turn one and I was able to come back on the inside to get the position, fortunately the next corner was a left hander so I got in front and from there obviously we had a very very strong pace.”

Having established a sizeable lead, Vettel lost the gap under the safety car following Daniel Ricciardo’s crash into the wall at turn seventeen. Despite this setback, the German driver believes that it did not hamper Red Bull too greatly.

“The safety car didn’t help but also I think didn’t hurt us in the very end obviously we had a new set of super-softs compared to those guys that were on very old primes, so by then we could control the race.”

Vettel has extended his championship lead to sixty points with this win, with closest-rival Fernando Alonso finishing second to the German driver in each of the past three grands prix.

Street race in Vietnam could lead Formula One’s Asia expansion

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TOKYO (AP) — Formula One is expected to add more races in Asia, including a street circuit in the capital of Vietnam, a country with little auto racing history that is on the verge of getting a marquee event.

“We think Hanoi could come on in the next couple of years, and we’re working with the Hanoi government to that end,” Sean Bratches, Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations, told the Associated Press.

There is even speculation it could be on the schedule next season, which Bratches rebuffed.

Vietnam would join countries like Azerbaijan, Russia and Bahrain, which have Grand Prix races, little history in the sport, and authoritarian governments with deep pockets that serve F1 as it tries to expand into new markets.

“This (Hanoi) is a street race where we can go downtown, where we can activate a large fan base,” Bratches said. “And you have extraordinary iconography from a television standpoint.”

A second race in China is also likely and would join Shanghai on the F1 calendar. Bratches said deciding where to stage the GP will “be left to local Chinese partners” – Beijing is a strong candidate.

Bratches runs the commercial side of Formula One, which was acquired last year by U.S.-based Liberty Media from long-time operator Bernie Ecclestone.

Formula One’s long-term goal is to have 24-25 races – up from the present 21 – and arrange them in three geographical segments: Asia, Europe and the Americas. Bratches said the Europe-based races would stay in middle of the calendar, with Asia or the Americas opening or ending the season.

He said their positioning had not been decided, and getting this done will be slowed by current contracts that mandate specific places on the calendar for several races. This means eventually that all the races in Asia would be run together, as would races in Europe and the Americas.

The F1 schedule is now an inefficient jumble, allowing Bratches to take a good-natured poke at how the sport was run under Ecclestone.

“We’ve acquired an undermanaged asset that’s 67-years-old, but effectively a start-up,” Bratches said.

Early-season races in Australia and China this year were conducted either side of a trip to Bahrain in the Middle East. Late in the season Formula One returns to Asia with races in Japan and Singapore.

The Canadian GP this season is run in the middle of the European swing, separated by four months from the other races in the Americas – the United States, Mexico and Brazil. These three are followed by the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, which means another trip across the globe.

“With the right economics, with the right structure and cadence of events across territories, 24 or 25 is probably where we’d like to be from a longer-term standpoint,” Bratches said.

Big changes are not likely to happen until the 2020 season ends. This is when many current rules and contracts expire as F1’s new owners try to redistribute some income to allow smaller teams to compete.

“There’s more interest than we have capacity in the schedule,” Bratches said, firing off Berlin, Paris or London as potentially attractive venues. “We want to be very selective.”

“Those cites from an economic impact standpoint would find us value, as do others around the world,” Bratches added. “It’s very important for us as we move forward to go to locations that are a credit to the Formula One brand.”

An expanded schedule would have to be approved by the teams, which will be stretched by the travel and the wear-and-tear on their crews. The burden will fall on the smaller teams, which have significantly smaller revenue compared with Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull.

Bratches also envisions another race in the U.S., joining the United States Grand Prix held annually in Austin, Texas. A street race in Miami is a strong candidate, as are possible venues like Las Vegas or New York.

“We see the United States and China as countries that could support two races,” he said.

Liberty Media has reported Formula One’s total annual revenue at $1.8 billion, generated by fees paid by promoters, broadcast rights, advertising and sponsorship. Race promotion fees also tend to be higher in Asia, which makes the area attractive – along with a largely untapped fan base.

In a four-year cycle, F1 generates more revenue than FIFA or the International Olympic Committee, which rely almost entirely on one-time showcase events.

Reports suggest Vietnamese promoters may pay between $50-60 million annually as a race fee, with those fees paid by the government. Bratches said 19 of 21 Formula One races are supported by government payments.

“The race promotion fee being derived from the government … is a model that has worked historically,” Bratches said.