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Mercedes no longer the favorite in F1, Wolff says

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Mercedes is no longer the favorite in Formula One, and that is something the team needs to get used to.

The Silver Arrows head into this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix after a dire performance at last month’s Monaco GP. Valtteri Bottas finished fourth while three-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton only managed seventh.

Worse still, Ferrari finished 1-2 with Sebastian Vettel beating Kimi Raikkonen. After six races, Mercedes trails Ferrari in the drivers’ and constructors’ championships – a big change after three years of total Mercedes dominance.

“Historic success doesn’t translate into current performance,” said Toto Wolff, the head of motorsport at Mercedes. “We have to fight with all that we are worth for every single win, pole position, podium finish and every point. You can no longer expect that, when you look at a timesheet, the two Mercedes will be right at the top.”

Hamilton headed into this season chasing a fourth title. But the British driver trails four-time F1 champion Vettel by 25 points, and with a less reliable car than the German’s slick Ferrari. Hamilton also failed to get on the podium at the Russian GP, finishing fourth.

“It’s painful, but we are not the favorites for this year’s championship. At the moment it’s Ferrari,” Wolff said Tuesday. “They have a very strong package and we need to rise to the challenge to prove once again that we are the team to beat.”

While the Ferrari is cruising, the inconsistent Mercedes is struggling to find the right balance between front and rear axle. That remains an ongoing worry and also impacts on tire strategy. Mercedes botched their tire choices in Monaco practice, leading to a very difficult qualifying session.

“Everybody at the factories is working absolutely flat out to assess the current difficulties we are facing,” Wolff said. “Some of these fixes will be short term, others may take longer.”

Mercedes hardly needs further glitches in Montreal. It is a demanding track made up of high-speed straights and tight corners, where drivers slam on the brakes for nearly 20 percent of the race.

“It could be a tricky race for us in terms of the layout of the track,” Wolff said. “But, equally, it’s a circuit that suits both of our drivers. Lewis has won a number of times in the past.”

Hamilton has won the two previous races in Canada driving for Mercedes, and in 2007, ’10 and ’12 driving for McLaren.

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/