Sebastian Vettel cruises to Bahrain GP victory

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Sebastian Vettel has cruised to victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix today after staying out of trouble and setting a searing pace to finish well ahead of his rivals.

The defending world champion took the lead on the first lap of the race and didn’t look back, whilst his closest rivals in qualifying, Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg, both ran into trouble to fall well down the order.

Eventually, it was the Lotus pairing of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean who posed the greatest challenge to Vettel, with Raikkonen stopping just twice on his way to second place. Grosjean stopped three times, and he managed to make the strategy work to overtake Force India’s Paul di Resta. The British driver will be very pleased to have matched his best ever result in Formula One with the two-stop strategy.

Lewis Hamilton led home a battling group at the end to finish 5th ahead of Sergio Perez in 6th. The McLaren driver overtook Mark Webber on the last lap, whilst Fernando Alonso came back from making two unscheduled pit stops due to a DRS failure to finish P8.

Pole-sitter Nico Rosberg suffered as many expected with his tire wear, and he could only manage to finish 9th, with Jenson Button completing the points in P10.

Vettel’s lead was as great as 30 seconds in places, and he managed to set a good pace throughout the race. For good measure, he posted the fastest lap of the race with three laps remaining, and the defending world champion now has a ten point lead in the drivers’ championship entering the European season.

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Lotus will be delighted to have finished P2 and P3 after starting 8th and 11th, and the result has seen the team move up to second place in the constructors’ championship ahead of Ferrari. Raikkonen is the only driver within one race win (25 points) of Vettel, and he will be keen on placing himself in the championship hunt.

The split in strategies produced some great action, and there was even a close battle between McLaren teammates Sergio Perez and Jenson Button. Perez had been told in the week to “be more aggressive”, and he did exactly that to push his teammate off the track at one point. He was just as ruthless when disposing of Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber on his way to P6, which is his best result since the 2012 Italian Grand Prix.

Further back, Williams continued its barren run in P11 and P14, whilst Felipe Massa suffered two punctures on his way to 15th. Caterham won the battle of the backmarkers, with Charles Pic finishing ahead of both Marussias, his teammate, and even the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez.

Click here for the complete race result from the official F1 website.

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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