Vettel ‘unfortunate’ on safety car, feels Hamilton deserved China F1 win

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Sebastian Vettel believes it would have been a close Formula 1 race between Mercedes and Ferrari in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix had it not been for a badly-timed safety car period that left him with “too much to do”.

Vettel won the opening race of the season in Australia two weeks ago, ending Ferrari’s 18-month win drought, and qualified second in China on Saturday behind pole-man Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel made an early pit stop under the Virtual Safety Car to switch from intermediate tires to slicks, being the first of the leading drivers to do so.

However, a full safety car period gave the likes of Hamilton and Max Verstappen a free stop, leaving Vettel fifth on-track once the race resumed.

The Ferrari driver was able to battle back to second place, finishing six seconds shy of race winner Hamilton, and while he felt his British rival deserved victory in China, he thinks it would have been a closer race without the strategy faux pas.

“I’ll just go with the fact of who won the race, they deserve to win. I think every race we do, the race winner deserves the win,” Vettel said.

“They did a better job. Obviously we were a bit unfortunate with the safety car early on, but if it wasn’t there, you never know how it would’ve impacted on the race. Was it enough? I thought yes, but it’s a long race from there and it could’ve been a different outcome.

“It was really good fun. Obviously I had a bit too much to do in the race than [Hamilton] had, I saw he was controlling the pace probably from the beginning, and then once I got past Kimi [Raikkonen] and Daniel [Ricciardo] I obviously tried to hunt him down but knowing that it would be too difficult with that car.

“In the last couple of laps I asked the team to give me an average on what we needed to catch up, to know what I have to do, and when they came to the conclusion that if it’s a bit more than 0.5 seconds per lap, I would keep pushing. Because you never know if Lewis would make a mistake or has an issue with the car, so I wanted to keep the pressure on.

“I enjoyed the fact we are racing them even if not side by side or right behind each other but 8s apart and we knew he was pushing as well so I think we are matched on pace, probably sometimes a little bit faster. Overall it’s good fun.”

Vettel and Hamilton head to next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix tied on points at the top of the drivers’ championship, with the Ferrari driver hopeful of being back in the fight for victory.

“I think if we can challenge Mercedes it should be very good news. They’ve had a very very strong run in the last couple of years there,” Vettel said.

“I think we need to look after ourselves and work on the stuff that we can do better, must do better. We can improve so I’m happy if we can surprise them but we have to be patient.”

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

Photos courtesy American Flat Track
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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


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