TUSC: Braun, Huff earn PC class rides

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Add Colin Braun and Rob Huff to the list of confirmed drivers for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The talented young American (Braun) and 2012 FIA World Touring Car Champion (Huff) will each race in the PC class, as Braun continues with CORE autosport and Huff will race selected events with Starworks Motorsport.

Braun will team for his third full season at CORE with team principal and co-driver Jon Bennett, in the renumbered No. 54 ORECA FLM09 (had been No. 05). The team has won the PC class championship the last three seasons since entering in the American Le Mans Series in 2011. Braun made his GT class debut in CORE’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the second half of last year (pictured) but will bolster the team’s PC effort.

“It feels great to be back with this CORE autosport team and with Jon as my co-driver,” Braun said in a release. “Over the past two years I’ve seen what this team is capable of and winning the team championship the past three years shows that I’m with a championship-caliber team, which is where every race car driver wants to be.  This team really has become like family and I am very glad to be keeping our tight knit group of guys together for 2014 as well.”

Huff, meanwhile, will make his prototype race debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and is Starworks’ third confirmed PC class driver in 2014, alongside Sam Bird and Isaac Tutumlu. Starworks is yet to announce pairings for the full season. Huff is expected to race in Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans with another full WTCC season also on tap.

“I’m looking forward to pitting myself against such a vast mix of world-renowned drivers from the highest echelons of single-seater and sports car racing – it will provide me with a real benchmark for my own performances – and it will be particularly as part of the newly-unified Grand-Am and American Le Mans championships – the USSC – which has massive potential,” he said in a release.

F1 2017 driver review: Sebastian Vettel

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Sebastian Vettel

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 5
Races: 20
Wins: 5
Podiums (excluding wins): 8
Pole Positions: 4
Fastest Laps: 5
Points: 317
Laps Led: 286
Championship Position: 2nd

2017 was supposed to be the year Sebastian Vettel finally fulfilled his ambition of emulating Michael Schumacher by returning Ferrari to its championship-winning heyday.

Instead, it ended in disappointment and frustration – once again.

Ferrari arguably made a greater step across the change in technical regulations for 2017 than any other team, living up to its pre-season tag as favorite by winning the opening round in Australia in fashion.

Vettel and Ferrari led their respective championships following the Monaco Grand Prix as the German ended a 16-year win drought for the Prancing Horse in the principality, and even heading into the summer break, a shot at both championships was looking good.

However, cracks had started to appear. Vettel’s remarkable antics behind the safety car in Baku sparked controversy after driving into Hamilton, suggesting the tension of the title fight was beginning to take its toll on the German.

The final run of flyaways was where things really fell apart for Vettel, though. Singapore looked to be a slam-dunk win, only for a start-line crash also involving teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen to put 25 free points in Hamilton’s pocket.

Reliability woes then struck in Malaysia and Japan – two more races Vettel could realistically have won – to make it game over in the title race, with Hamilton wrapping things up in Mexico.

Vettel only finished the year 46 points back from Hamilton, proving the impact the three bad races in Asia had. Realistically, this was a title race that should have gone down to the wire in Abu Dhabi. Instead, Vettel remains a four-time champion, level with Hamilton, who had just one to his name back in 2013 when his rival secured his fourth.

Ferrari’s internal issues will come under the microscope over the off-season, and Vettel himself knows there is plenty to work on. Staying cool under pressure and not letting things boil over as in Baku is the most obvious area for improvement.

But there is reason for hope. If Ferrari can keep up with Mercedes and repeat its impressive step into 2017 through the upcoming off-season, we may well be treated to another Vettel/Hamilton scrap at the front of the field, perhaps settling once and for all who is the greatest driver of the post-Schumacher era.

Season High: A crucial win in Hungary despite battling with a broken steering column.

Season Low: Letting tensions flare in Baku and hitting Hamilton behind the safety car.