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Vettel: Ferrari still ‘in a good way’ despite F1 title bid collapse

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Sebastian Vettel feels that Ferrari is still “in a good way” despite being forced to retire from Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix due to an engine issue that did further damage to his Formula 1 title bid.

Vettel led the drivers’ championship up to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza four races ago, with retirements in Singapore and Japan plus an issue that forced him to start last in Malaysia allowing Lewis Hamilton to pull clear into a 59-point lead.

Vettel started second at Suzuka on Sunday, but was forced to park his car up after just two laps due to a faulty spark plug as Hamilton stormed to his eighth win of the year.

“I don’t know if this situation has much to do with reliability, but we didn’t finish the race, so there is a problem. I think it was a small issue causing a big one,” Vettel said.

“We didn’t have power already at the start and we tried to reset everything getting the power back, but something didn’t work.”

Ferrari is at risk of losing both the drivers’ and constructors’ championship at the United States Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, but Vettel still has confidence in the team.

“Of course, now the championship is more difficult and not finishing the race doesn’t help. I also said to the guys to get back home and have some rest because it’s been a tough week with a lot of changes,” Vettel said.

“Then we’ll come back with a better package to do well for the last four races and then we’ll see. Overall, I believe the team is in a good way.

“We are improving race by race and there are positive aspects too. But, of course, today you can’t look too much at positive things.”

Hamilton will be crowned champion in Austin if he outscores Vettel by 16 points, while Mercedes will win the constructors’ title so long as Ferrari does not outscore it by 17.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”