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F1 2016 Driver Review: Sebastian Vettel

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Sebastian Vettel

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 5
Races: 21
Podiums: 7
Best Finish: 2nd (China, Canada, Europe)
Fastest Laps: 3
Points: 212
Laps Led: 90
Championship Position: 4th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

2016 was an odd year for Sebastian Vettel. Despite falling well short of the pre-season hype that suggested he could be the man to end Mercedes’ dominance, there were times when Vettel did look capable of victory.

Take Australia for example, when the red flag played against Ferrari. Or Canada, when Ferrari’s strategy call cost him a real shot at victory. Baku was a weekend where Vettel was hugely impressive, just unable to compete with Nico Rosberg due to Mercedes’ pace advantage.

That said, Vettel did have a number of disappointing weekends where his most notable contribution to the grand prix was his radio complaints. “Blue flag!” was a regular one, as was “honestly!” – but the best radio nugget had to be ‘existential crisis Seb’: “What are we doing here?!”

Ahem, back to racing. Yes, it was a tough year that saw Vettel struggle and the cracks in the ‘meant-to-be’ relationship with Ferrari began to show. He still led Maranello’s charge, even if the gulf to teammate Kimi Raikkonen was not as great as in 2015 – let’s give credit where it’s due.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

It was fitting, really, that Sebastian Vettel finished fourth in this year’s championship. The four-time World Champion was often fourth or worse this year; he only had two podiums in the final 13 races after banking five in the first eight. Much could be attributed to James Allison’s midseason departure but in truth it felt this was another year of Vettel cracking from his near-peerless Red Bull days.

Within the team, he didn’t have as big an edge on Kimi Raikkonen as he should have. With the Finn’s driving style better suited to the 2016 chassis, Raikkonen outqualified him 11-10 on the season. Plus there were four races – Bahrain, Russia, Austria and Malaysia – where Vettel didn’t even survive the first lap.

Vettel became the arbiter of speaking out against drivers moving in the braking zone, or ignoring blue flags. Then, ironically, he did so in Mexico in the year’s goofiest podium roundup. It was Vettel’s second winless season in three years and arguably one of his most disappointing in his career, especially after how well he got on in his first year with Ferrari in 2015.

GoDaddy to sponsor Patrick in ‘Danica Double’ at Daytona, Indy — now all she needs are rides

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By The Associated Press

Danica Patrick is going back to green.

GoDaddy Green, to be exact – a fitting color for her farewell tour.

The company will sponsor Patrick in the upcoming “Danica Double” that will close out her racing career, The Associated Press has learned. Patrick has no ride yet for next month’s Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500 in May, but she now has the financial backing to pull it off.

This time around, the original GoDaddy Girl will symbolize the new core mission of the company that helped make her one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

“There’s this great story: I left IndyCar with GoDaddy on my car, I started NASCAR with GoDaddy on my car, I’m most recognized as the GoDaddy green car and driver, and so to finish up my career that way feels appropriate,” Patrick told the AP from Scottsdale, Arizona.

Her final race will be the Indy 500, an appropriate choice because it was “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” that rocketed Patrick and GoDaddy into pop culture notoriety.

GoDaddy and Patrick grew up together. The company switched series with her and marketed her as a strong, sexy woman in 13 Super Bowl commercials – a record appearance for celebrities. Now, the company is most interested in Patrick the budding businesswoman who is firmly closing the door on her racing career and rebranding herself as an entrepreneur . She has a book out, an apparel line, a wine label and confirmed to AP this week that she’s dating Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“Our goals are so well-aligned,” Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer of GoDaddy, told AP. “She’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the internet and turn their `side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers.”

Prepare to hear a lot about the “side hustle” as GoDaddy climbs aboard the so-far fledgling “Danica Double.”

Patrick announced in November she would end her driving career with the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, but didn’t have a deal completed for either race. Still doesn’t. Yet somehow, Patrick always figures a way to get what she wants. Talks ended with Chip Ganassi Racing about a possible ride, and late last month, Patrick said, she called former GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons and asked about a reunion.

GoDaddy has rebranded since it last teamed with Patrick. The company now touts itself as “the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures,” and there’s no better spokeswoman than Patrick, who is in the next chapter of her life and her brand.

GoDaddy pulled out of racing after the 2015 season, and Patrick hasn’t had the same level of funding and marketing support since. Patrick has slowly reshaped her image, first into a Instagram model and is now a full-blown lifestyle guru. She realized – at the age of 35 – she was on her own.

She and GoDaddy aligned for a splashy move into NASCAR, where she was glamorous off the track but only mediocre on it. Through all of this, she was married, divorced, spent five years dating fellow driver and competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and then seemed to find herself through a tailored diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

She is cutting the cord on racing after Indy, and her focus is on a sense of well-being far away from the track.

“Their business is so perfectly paired to what is going on with mine, so when we sat down and met, it was like, `Let’s talk about our business. Let’s talk about the messaging. How does this work?”‘ Patrick said. “And this is undeniably perfect for both of us. Not only is it a huge two races and the biggest two races of the year, but on top of that, you have so much `side hustle’ going on, and all the messaging and our brands, and where we are going is so perfectly paired.”w

GoDaddy can help Patrick move on to whatever it is for racing’s former “It Girl.” The company will help her streamline her online presence. Patrick, for the company, is back as a neon green-and-yellow symbol to all the wannabe entrepreneurs chasing dreams.

She’ll get those rides, too. Patrick said she knows she will because she believes she will.

“That’s just the way the universe works,” she said. “You have to ask for what you want. Things have taken a long time with this, but you just have to go with the flow on these things. The universe is not on your time schedule.”

More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org/