Sebastian Vettel

Vettel suspects Mercedes of sandbagging during practice


Sebastian Vettel believes that there is significant room for improvement for Red Bull in China despite a solid display during practice at the Shanghai International Circuit today.

The German driver finished the first session on Friday morning in ninth place, but improved to finish fifth in FP2 just behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Unlike nearest rivals Mercedes and Ferrari, the team did not encounter any problems during practice, but Vettel still is not happy with his pace.

“We didn’t have any major issues today, so it was good in terms of testing,” he said. “There’s a lot for us to do, for me especially as I’m not yet where I want to be, but we made some progress.”

Vettel also suspects that Mercedes were sandbagging their pace during practice, as the great difference between the Silver Arrows and the rest of the field that we saw in Bahrain appears to have shrunk.

“Maybe they didn’t run full beans today,” he said to the media in China. “They are still the favorites and still quite far away.

“I was behind the Mercedes on the long run and it looked like they could do what they want. But it depends what tires you have on the car and what time you go out. Nevertheless, for us, it was a good day, but we are not yet on the level of the Mercedes.”

Earlier this week, the defending Formula 1 world champion set his sights on a top five finish in China, but his long run pace during the second practice session on Friday suggests that he could be in the running for a podium finish.

NHRA: New book a celebration of life, love and drag racing

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The overpowering smell from nitromethane that powers Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars in the National Hot Rod Association oftentimes brings fans to tears after getting a whiff of the stuff.

Now there’s a new inspirational book that will also bring tears to the eyes of die-hard drag racing fans.

Veteran crew chief Jim Oberhofer has released “Top Fuel For Life, Life Lessons From A Crew Chief,” a touching homage to both his late wife and persevering and overcoming adversity in the highly competitive world of NHRA drag racing.

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Oberhofer wears a number of hats as vice president of one of the sport’s most veteran and successful teams, Kalitta Motorsports, including serving as crew chief for Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta’s dragster.

Oberhofer relates a number of stories about overcoming adversity in the book, but none more touching than how he watched his beloved wife “Tammy O” lose a long and painful battle to stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.

While Oberhofer has spent his life using wrenches and tools working on 10,000-horsepower engines, his new book shows that he is also a very gifted writer.

Known in the sport as “Jim O,” Oberhofer describes the fight his wife went through in gritty and descriptive prose, but with a foundation built upon what the love of his life meant to him – and continues to mean to him more than two years since she passed away.

“When you take a long hard look at your life, I guarantee you that being a winner has little to do with crossing the finish line,” Oberhofer said. “After many mistakes and a whole lot of heartache, I learned that happiness comes from a deeper, simpler place. That’s the big win.”

“Top Fuel For Life” is available on Amazon for $19.95.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Report: Ecclestone believes F1 could be sold by year’s end

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Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday said the racing series is up for sale and has as many as three potential buyers.

Ecclestone told The Associated Press that a deal could still be struck by year’s end.

“I think so, maybe this year,” Ecclestone said. “There are three people mentioned to buy. So it’s a case of whether CVC or Mr. Mackenzie wants to sell.”

Ecclestone was referring to F1’s largest and controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners co-chairman Donald Mackenzie.

But even if F1 is sold, the 84-year-old Eccelstone doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

“The people that I’ve spoken to … have asked me if I would stay,” Ecclestone told AP.

Follow @JerryBonkowski