Webber expects Vettel to match Schumacher’s seven titles

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Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel may not have been the best of friends in their five years as team mates at Red Bull, but Webber showed his respect for his team mate’s abilities in a recent interview.

Webber told the Daily Mail he expects Vettel to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of winning seven world championship titles.

“Seb’s phenomenal, a very tough act,” said Webber. “I think he will reach Michael Schumacher’s total of seven championships, no problem.”

Vettel’s success is not just down to the strength of Red Bull’s cars in recent seasons, Webber added. “Seb has won a lot of races when the car has been good, but he has also won a lot when the car hasn’t been good.

“Seb is like Alain Prost, but with a qualifying lap at his fingertips. Impressive. Also, he hardly ever makes a mistake. It’s not all the car.”

“It’s been fascinating for me to be in the boxing ring with him. I will look back at that and, realize you have understood a lot about yourself from what went on. It was a big juicy part of Formula One.”

Webber has had a tough time alongside Vettel this year, being out-qualified 15 times to 2 and has not finished ahead of Vettel in any of the 13 races where both have seen the checkered flag. That includes the contentious Malaysian Grand Prix where Vettel ignored a late-race team order to finish behind Webber.

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.