Red Bull find form in Australia; Vettel calls it a “relief”

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After a disastrous winter testing programme, defending world champions Red Bull finally appear to have found their feet ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

Having suffered problem after problem in Jerez and Bahrain, most expected the team to stand little chance of challenging front-runners Mercedes this weekend. However, both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo completed plenty of trouble-free mileage during practice on Friday, and even had the pace to finish well within the top ten in both sessions.

“In a way it’s a relief today, the fact that we were running, we didn’t have any problems, the balance was good and the performance looked alright,” defending world champion Vettel explained. “In the end Friday times are not worth a lot, but it’s better to be close to the top rather than somewhere towards the back, so I’m very happy with that.

“We will do what we can to prepare for tomorrow and Sunday, but let’s see where we are then – the most important thing is that we finish.”

Vettel completed 51 laps on Friday, amount to around one-third of what he managed throughout the entire winter testing period. New teammate Daniel Ricciardo also enjoyed a successful day at Albert Park, completing 64 laps, and he even finished ahead of Vettel in the first free practice session.

“I knew the guys were doing everything they could since testing but still, we didn’t expect to do that many laps today, so I’m really happy and pleased for them,” the Australian driver said. “I think we have to be pretty positive with where we ended up today. We expected Mercedes to be quickest, but we were within a second of them today so that’s a lot better than we thought. Let’s see if it’s the same story after qualifying tomorrow, but for today we’re pleased.”

Although the odds are stacked against him, Vettel is chasing an unprecedented tenth straight victory on Sunday in Australia. However, should the forecast rain arrive and a few retirements work in his favor, the German driver may stand a chance of breaking Alberto Ascari’s 60-year-old record.

Racing world reacts to Danica Patrick’s Daytona, Indy double news

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Here’s a sampling of quotes and social media reaction to Danica Patrick’s news announced earlier Friday that this would be her last full-time season as a driver, and that she’ll race in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 only in 2018.

This ends a full-time stretch in the top flights of NASCAR and IndyCar. She was in NASCAR from 2012 through 2017, and IndyCar from 2005 through 2011.

Her’s her own post on Twitter and Instagram.

Well…. 2018 Daytona 500 and Indy 500 here I come. 🙌🏼

A post shared by Danica Patrick (@danicapatrick) on

IMS President J. Douglas Boles

“We’re glad Danica plans to return to the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil next May,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “Her final career start will make what’s already shaping up to be a terrific Month of May even more interesting for our fans.

“It’s also fitting that Danica is wrapping up her career at the place and in the race where she became a household name and captured the world’s attention in 2005 – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500. We’re looking forward to seeing her back in an Indy car next May alongside all of the tremendous drivers of the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

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