Vettel and Massa make biggest gains so far

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Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa have made the best starts to the new season compared to how they performed last year.

Both drivers have racked up 22 points more than they collected in the first two rounds of 2012.

Vettel’s controversial win in Malaysia has put him at the top of the drivers’ championship with 40 points – five more than last year’s early leader Fernando Alonso enjoyed at this stage.

Massa’s bright start to 2013 is in marked contrast to his troubled 2012 campaign. This time last year he was yet to score – twelve months on he is ahead of team mate Alonso in the championship.

Alonso’s failure to finish in Malaysia – a race he won last year – is an early setback for his championship prospects. He went into the season expecting a stronger start than he had with the troubled F2012:

“I’m confident I can start the season with a better car than the one we had in the first few months of last year, Alonso said in January.

“It was actually in the early races that we lost decisive points, when we had a car that was only good enough for seventh, as was the case in China or ninth in Bahrain.”

This year it’s McLaren who’ve started the season with an uncompetitive car, meaning Jenson Button and Sergio Perez are the drivers who have lost the most points compared to 2012. Here’s a full table for all the drivers.

Position Driver Points Change
1 Sebastian Vettel 40 +22
2 Kimi Raikkonen 31 +15
3 Mark Webber 26 +2
4 Lewis Hamilton 25 -5
5 Felipe Massa 22 +22
6 Fernando Alonso 18 -17
7 Nico Rosberg 12 +12
8 Romain Grosjean 9 +9
9 Adrian Sutil 6 +6
10 Paul di Resta 4 -3
11 Nico Hulkenberg 4 +2
12 Sergio Perez 2 -20
13 Jenson Button 2 -23
14 Jean-Eric Vergne 1 -3

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III