Vettel happy to qualify 2nd despite minor car problem

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Defending Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel has bounced back from a disastrous opening race of the season in Australia to qualify in second place for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix, and the German driver is delighted to be back on the front row of the grid.

However, it all very nearly ended in tears for Vettel and Red Bull. After being forced to retire from the Australian Grand Prix with just five laps on the board because of an engine problem, Vettel was called into the pits after posting just one lap time in Q1 on Saturday due to another problem. Thankfully for the team, it was merely a case of resetting the car and sending the German driver out again.

“My heartbeat was rising very quickly in Q1 when we realised there was an issue,” Vettel admitted after qualifying. “We came in and restarted the car, which seemed to solve the problem and after that it was fine.”

Eventually, Vettel qualified in second place and finished just 0.055 seconds behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton, but – being the four-time champion he is – was left frustrated by such a minor margin. Upon seeing the results, the German driver exclaimed: “Six-hundredths! You’re kidding!” before congratulating Hamilton on his second pole position of the season.

“Q3 was not perfect,” Vettel admitted. “It was very close, maybe too close, as if you look at the margin it was possible to go faster, but then if Lewis would have had another chance he would have improved also.

“So ‘would should, could’ – at the end of the day it’s good to be on the front row and it should be the good side of the grid for tomorrow. It depends on how our start is, but I’m happy with the result.”

After a disastrous winter testing programme and a poor start to the season in Australia, Vettel will be delighted to have finally found some form and pushed Hamilton and Mercedes in the fight for pole position.

Although he might struggle to beat Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the dry on Sunday, the weather forecast suggests that rain could play a part, and perhaps give Vettel a chance of securing his fourth victory in Malaysia.

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”