© Getty Images

Vettel happy to answer Ferrari’s critics with Abu Dhabi podium

1 Comment

Sebastian Vettel was happy to answer Ferrari’s critics by finishing third in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, rounding out the 2016 Formula 1 season with a podium.

Vettel and Ferrari had been expected to take the fight to Mercedes after an impressive first year working together in 2015, only for the pace of the SF16-H car to leave the Italian marque third in the pecking order as Red Bull moved ahead.

Vettel qualified fifth in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, but made a risky strategy work well to go on a late charge with the super-soft tires fitted, battling his way up to third place in the closing stages.

Vettel was in with a shot of taking Ferrari’s first win in over a year as race leader Lewis Hamilton tried back Nico Rosberg up in a last-ditch attempt to claim the championship, only to fall 1.4 seconds shy at the checkered flag.

“It was tough out there, the last couple of laps. I didn’t want to be in his shoes,” Vettel said, referring to newly-crowned champion Rosberg.

“I was trying to get close and have another go. I thought why not pass both of them if Lewis is going that slow in front! It was difficult, my tires were also dropping towards the end.

“Bit stuck at the beginning of the race. I was starting to get a bit frustrated. Once I had clean air, I could really unleash the pace that we had today.”

For Vettel, the result acted as an answer to many of his own and Ferrari’s critics in a season that has seen the Italian marque come under fire for not pushing Mercedes at the front.

“I think the whole team deserves the podium today. We’ve worked so hard,” Vettel said.

“We’ve had so much criticism this year, sometimes right, sometimes not justified. That’s how it goes, it’s a tough game. We’re fighting really tough opponents.

“It’s been a tough year but obviously it’s nice to finish on a high. We take that momentum into next year.”

The result also clinched fourth place in the drivers’ championship for Vettel, beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by eight points in the final standings.

Get your motor running: American Flat Track’s new season premieres Sunday on NBCSN

Photos courtesy American Flat Track
Leave a comment

If you like racing two-wheel style, make sure you catch the debut of a new multi-year TV broadcast deal featuring the American Flat Track motorcycle racing series on NBCSN.

The 18-round series debuts this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN with the season-opening race that was held at Daytona International Speedway on March 15.

Going forward, all 18 rounds of the series will be televised on NBCSN in highly-coveted weekend afternoon programming slots without two weeks of each event.

Last season, AFT drew nearly two million viewers on NBCSN with regular primetime coverage on Thursday nights.

This season, the one-hour, tape-delayed telecasts will be part of NBCSN’s regular weekend programing, following or preceding coverage of NASCAR, INDYCAR and Pro Motocross.

AFT is now in its 65th season, with two distinct classes: powerful, twin-cylinder rides in the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines division, and the competition in the 450cc AFT Singles division.

“We are very excited to kick-off our second season of AFT on NBCSN,” NBC Sports Group Senior Director of Programming Jeff Macaluso. “The 2017 season provided us with some incredible racing and showed us how passionate the riders and fans are of this historic sport.

“The move to weekends this year, around other marquis motorsports properties, is sure to raise the level even higher.”

Here’s the 2018 AFT schedule on NBCSN:

Round Track, Location Track Type Premiere Time (ET) Time (PT)
1 Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL TT Sun, 3/25 2:00 PM 11:00 AM
2 Dixie Speedway, Woodstock, GA Short Track Sat, 4/14 5:30 PM 2:30 PM
3 Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, TX Half-Mile Sun, 5/06 4:00 PM 1:00 PM
4 Calistoga Speedway, Calistoga, CA Half-Mile Sun, 5/20 12:00 PM 9:00 AM
5 Turf Paradise, Phoenix, AZ Mile Sat, 5/26 3:00 PM 12:00 PM
6 Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA Mile Sun, 6/03 2:00 PM 11:00 AM
7 Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL Mile Sat, 6/09 5:00 PM 2:00 PM
8 Red Mile, Lexington, KY Mile Sat, 6/16 12:00 PM 9:00 AM
9 Remington Park, Oklahoma City, OK Mile Sat, 6/23 5:00 PM 2:00 PM
10 Allen County Fairgrounds, Lima, OH Half-Mile Sat, 7/07 2:30 PM 11:30 AM
11 Weedsport Speedway, Weedsport, NY Short Track Sun, 7/15 6:00 PM 3:00 PM
12 Buffalo Chip Campgrounds, Sturgis, SD TT Sat, 8/11 12:30 PM 9:30 AM
13 Black Hills Speedway, Rapid City, SD Half-Mile Sat, 8/18 2:00 PM 11:00 AM
14 Peoria Motorcycle Club, Peoria, IL TT Sat, 9/01 3:00 PM 12:00 PM
15 Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL Mile Sat, 9/22 2:30 PM 11:30 AM
16 Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, PA Half-Mile Sun, 9/23 5:00 PM 2:00 PM
17 Canterbury Park, Shakopee, MN Mile Sun, 10/14 5:00 PM 2:00 PM
18 Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, NJ Mile Sun, 10/21 2:00 PM 11:00 AM


Follow @JerryBonkowski