Vettel refuses to put loss of pole down to KERS failure

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Across the course of the 2013 Formula One season, the relationship between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel has been frosty at the best of times, with the ‘Multi 21’ fiasco at the Malaysian Grand Prix being the low point in an on-going feud between the Red Bull teammates.

However, the German driver has praised his Australian counterpart for his performance in qualifying today that saw him claim his first pole position in almost one year, and Vettel refused to put his failure to secure pole down to the KERS problem during Q3.

“First of all congratulations to Mark, I think he did a very good lap,” Vettel said. “We had an issue in qualifying, but I’m not a big fan of thinking that without this, with this, if this, you know… it’s always unknown and we’re P2. I’m happy with the result, a front row for the team is great.”

Vettel missed out on the opportunity to secure a fifth consecutive pole at Suzuka, having boasted a record that stretched right the way back to 2009. However, he was still highly complimentary about the pace of the RB9 car at Suzuka.

“The car was phenomenal today, especially in the first sector,” he said. “You realise afterwards that the car was really fantastic through there and you don’t get many days when the car feels that great and you can really push it to the limit. I enjoyed qualifying today and I’m happy with second place.”

The result sees Vettel continue his run of consecutive front-row starts the stretches right the way back to the British Grand Prix in June. With Fernando Alonso down in eighth place, the German driver will be looking to make a good start and jump ahead of his teammate and put himself in a position to win his fourth world title this weekend.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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