Vettel: Mercedes further ahead than Red Bull ever was

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Sebastian Vettel believes that the advantage that Mercedes currently enjoys at the beginning of the 2014 Formula 1 season is greater than Red Bull’s ever was over the past five years.

Mercedes has made a superb start to the season, leading every lap and claiming four one-two finishes to accompany its five wins. As a result, the German marque leads the constructors’ championship by over 100 points after just five rounds.

“We’ve never been in that kind of position,” Vettel explained in Monaco yesterday. “It’s easy now to look back and say we dominated everything and it was easy, but the way I remember it was a little bit different to that.

“I don’t think we ever started the season with five wins as a team. We had a different and strong finish last year but if you look at the races and the gaps, I think it’s a different story.”

Vettel and Red Bull won four world championships together between 2010 and 2013, and it culminated in a superb run of nine straight wins at the end of last season. However, the team rarely outclassed the field in the comfortable fashion that Mercedes has so far this year.

“We’ve been at the top the last couple of years, we know how it feels like and the sort of things you have to deal with, probably now they are in a similar position and they deserve it as they do the best job,” Vettel explained, praising the German team.

“You have to respect that Mercedes has a strong package so they will be very strong here I guess.

“Nico and Lewis are very good around here so they will be the ones to beat but maybe we can be a bit closer.”

In first practice earlier today, Red Bull did appear to have made a step forward as Daniel Ricciardo finished within three-tenths of first-placed Lewis Hamilton. Nevertheless, Mercedes does remain the team to beat, and barring something out of the ordinary, it is difficult to see that changing any time soon.

IMSA: CJ Wilson Racing to enter WeatherTech Championship

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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CJ Wilson Racing, a championship winning team in IMSA’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, is set to join the ranks of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team will make its IMSA debut during testing this week at Sebring International Raceway and will campaign an Acura NSX GT3 in the GT Daytona class.

Marc Miller and Till Bechtolsheimer are scheduled to handle the driving duties during the Sebring test, and a third driver, to be named at a later date, will join them for their debut race at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 17.

“As a young kid watching IMSA races, it was always my dream to race in the premier sports car series,” said team owner and former MLB all-star pitcher Wilson. “It looks like I still have some time before I race in (the) WeatherTech (Championship, as a driver) but I’m happy for Marc and Till to take on the toughest track in the country in the NSX.”

Wilson continued, “We have been aiming to get into this paddock for years but now the real fight begins to see what we can do against the much more experienced teams. So, we felt like, hey, if we’re going to go in and spend X-amount of dollars, maybe we’re better off spending that in GTD, getting our feet wet, and taking a real run at this and being where we want to be, which is having a chance to compete with the best teams in the Western Hemisphere.”
In addition to Sebring, the team will contest the other two rounds of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup – the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and the Motul Petit Le Mans – with plans to add additional events, as team manager Andris Laivins explained.
“Right now, the plan is to run the remainder of the Patrón NAEC, and hopefully add on a couple other rounds as we go,” Laivins detailed. “Last fall, as we approached Thanksgiving, it became clear that putting a proper effort on track for the Roar and Daytona was going to be tough, and the last thing you want to do is show up to the biggest race of the year unprepared, so we made the tough choice to sit it out and keep working.”
CJ Wilson Racing’s IMSA efforts date back to 2010, when the team debuted in the Mazda MX-5 Cup as well as what is now called the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. The team went on to win a championship in 2015, in the Street Tuner class of the Continental Tire Challenge.
The team currently fields Porsches in the Continental Tire Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class. Wilson himself has also been an IMSA competitor as a driver, most recently competing in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series last year.