Vettel not thinking about championship permutations

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He may only need to finish the race in fifth tomorrow to secure his fourth world championship, but Sebastian Vettel is refusing to think about anything less than winning tomorrow’s Indian Grand Prix after dominating qualifying today to secure his third consecutive pole position at Buddh International Circuit.

The German driver outqualified the rest of the field by over three-quarters of a second, easing to his forty-third career pole and his eighth of the season, and he was quick to praise his car for being so suited to the track in India.

“The car felt good all weekend and it just got better as the track improved,” Vettel said. “The car was amazing; it’s a great circuit, I really like the flow of it, especially around the middle sector with the high speed corners. If the car behaves the way you want it to through that section then you’re always then going to enjoy it, as we did today.”

However, he refused to pass comment on the championship situation, suggesting that Red Bull will take a pragmatic approach to the race tomorrow and make a decision whether to push or ease off to secure the championship when the time was right.

“We have been getting a lot of questions about the championship this weekend, but we’ll keep doing what we’ve done in the past, just focusing on every single step – we won’t change that for tomorrow, or the next couple of races,” he explained. “We’ve worked hard to get here and tomorrow is a long race.”

With the tire allocation in India creating a variety of different strategies, Vettel may find himself under threat from teammate Mark Webber during the race, but so long as the German driver keeps it on track and finishes in the top five, he will be crowned world champion for a fourth time on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).