Vettel approaches complete F1 dominance with fourth title

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Sebastian Vettel has been undefeated since the summer break ended. Not since the Hungarian Grand Prix in July has anyone else had stood on the top step of the podium.

The scale of Vettel’s success invites comparisons with the peaks of dominance achieved by drivers like Michael Schumacher, Jim Clark and Alberto Ascari.

With ten wins under his belt this year and three remaining, Vettel could tie Schumacher’s record of winning 13 races in a season (achieved in 2004, when there was one fewer event on the calendar).

His six consecutive wins means he could equal Schumacher and Ascari’s record winning seven consecutive races. Ascari actually went further – he won nine consecutive starts in 1952 and 1953, missing one of the races – but Vettel is on course to match that 60-year-old record.

This kind of sustained success is not unprecedented but it is extremely rare. For Vettel to do it at a time when the technical rules are tighter than ever makes it especially impressive.

Ascari typically won races by a minute or more as Ferrari’s 500 was the class of the field at a time when the championship was briefly run to F2 rules.

In 2004 Schumacher enjoyed virtually bespoke tires from Bridgestone and had unlimited testing to hone them to his exact specifications. Vettel, like everyone else in the field, gets what he’s given.

The mid-season change in tire construction (on safety grounds following the explosions seen at Silverstone) are probably part of the explanation for Red Bull’s step forward. Yes, Vettel was already ahead in the championship before then and Hamilton won the first race on the new tires, but the RB9 seems to have extracted more from them than any other car.

But Vettel knows these times won’t last forever. The coming overhaul of the technical regulations represents the biggest challenge to his four-year F1 supremacy so far, as he acknowledged after claiming the title yesterday:

“It’s a big, big, big project waiting for us next year. I think teams like Mercedes, Ferrari spend a lot of time thinking of new ideas. It’s a new car, it’s a new engine so it will be an incredibly big challenge.”

IndyCar at IMS Friday: How to watch, start times, live streaming info

IndyCar Indianapolis start times
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With three races remaining in the NTT IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon has a commanding lead and history on his side entering Friday’s opener of the Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The five-time series champion leads defending champ Josef Newgarden by 72 points.

Since 2014, the points leader with three races left has won the championship in five of the past six years, including Dixon in ’18.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has led the championship standings following every round after opening 2020 with three consecutive victories. Dixon also led the points by 78 points with three races remaining when he won the title in 2008.

Dixon, Newgarden, Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato are championship eligible.

Anyone outside 108 points of the lead after Indy will be eliminated heading into the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Here is the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course schedule for Friday (all times are ET), including details and start times:


Indianapolis Motor Speedway TV schedule for Friday

IndyCar Harvest GP Race 1: 3:30 p.m., USA Network, NBC Sports Gold and streaming on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for IndyCar on NBCSN this weekend with analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.


IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway start times, information

COMMAND TO START ENGINES: 3:53 p.m.

GREEN FLAG: 4 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 85 laps (207.35 miles) around Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in Indianapolis.

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Nine sets primary, five sets alternate (A 10th set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie.) Teams must use one set of primary and one set of alternate tires in the race.

PUSH TO PASS: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 57 degrees with a 0% chance of rain at the green flag.

QUALIFYING: 6:20 p.m. Thursday (NBC Sports Gold)

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the 25 drivers racing this weekend at Indianapolis