Difficult day for Mercedes as Hamilton and Rosberg struggle

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Following practice on Friday, Mercedes appeared to be the only team that stood any chance of beating Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull in Korea, but ultimately the Silver Arrows failed to threaten the German driver’s dominance on Sunday, crossing the line in fifth and seventh.

Lewis Hamilton suffered from aggressive tire wear throughout the race, spending the final eighteen laps of the race stuck behind Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg.

“That was not a great day for us and it feels like we deserved more as a team,” Hamilton said after the race. “After Grosjean got ahead of me at the start, there was no way past and it seemed that we were losing out to other on traction cars all day. After the safety car, we were just losing out in traction to the Sauber.”

Hamilton did force his way past Hulkenberg on more than one occasion only for the German driver to recover the position thanks to the superior straight line speed of the Sauber.

“Our car was really strong through the middle sector but not quick enough on the straights to stay ahead,” Hamilton conceded. “It was a nice battle with Fernando [Alonso] but it’s hard to take when it’s only for P5 or P6. It was just not a good race for us today but we have the chance to bounce back in Suzuka.”

Nico Rosberg had been set to reach the podium at one point after passing Hamilton for third place, but a spectacular nose and front wing failure seconds later put paid to any hopes he may have had of scoring heavily.

“That was another very tough race for me,” Rosberg said. “I couldn’t believe what happened with the wing: I was on course for a podium finish after overtaking Lewis and two seconds later, the front wing just broke. It was pretty scary because that could have been a dangerous situation but the engineers told me over the radio that it was under control and I could carry some speed back to the pits.”

Eventually, Rosberg was forced to settle for seventh, but Mercedes did manage to cut the gap to Ferrari in the constructors’ championship to just one point.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.