Vettel and Hamilton’s seasons start with a whimper

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Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton’s 2014 campaigns started in the worst possible fashion today as both drivers were forced to retire within the first five laps of the Australian Grand Prix.

Having scored his 32nd career pole position on Saturday, Hamilton was the early favorite to win the race from the front row of the grid, but the Briton made a poor start and dropped down to third place. However, when driving onto the grid following the second of two parade laps after an aborted start, his Mercedes power unit began to splutter and sound ‘off-key’. Although he did manage to complete a few laps, the team eventually ordered him to return to the pits and park up due to a cylinder failure.

For Vettel though, the race was even worse. En route to the grid, the defending world champion – chasing his tenth straight GP win – reported that his engine was low on power. From 12th place, he failed to get a good getaway, dropping down to 14th and even losing a position to the Marussia of Max Chilton, such were his problems. After struggling around the track for five laps, the team eventually called Vettel in and ended his race. His title defence has started with a whimper.

Their teammates’ races were a stark contrast, though. Whilst Hamilton retired on lap four, Rosberg – who had jumped into the lead at the first corner – led from start to finish, proving Mercedes’ pace by winning with a 24 second advantage.

In the other Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo scored his first Formula 1 podium on debut for the team, managing to fend off the McLarens of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button in the final stages of the race. This sent the partisan crowd into delirium as their favorite son finished in second place at his home grand prix.

However, with both teams running well in Australia, Vettel and Hamilton will undoubtedly feel that they are still capable of winning the drivers’ title in 2014.

IndyCar race weekend doubleheader schedule at IMS road course

IndyCar weekend schedule Indianapolis
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The NTT IndyCar Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the third time this season but with a weekend schedule that will put the action in front of fans for the first time in 2020.

The track’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course will play host to IndyCar and sports cars series over four days. The action will begin Thursday with practice and concluding with an eight-hour race Sunday featuring the Intercontinental GT Challenge and GT World Challenge America.

The NTT IndyCar Series will hold a Friday-Saturday race doubleheader called the Harvest GP presented by GMR.

ENTRY LISTS: Who’s racing IndyCar at IMS this weekend

The name is a nod to the Harvest Classic, which was held Sept. 9, 1916 to help the track stay solvent during World War I. The event had three races of 20, 50 and 100 miles (all won by Johnny Aitken) that was the only racing held outside May at IMS from 1911-93.

A limited crowd of 10,000 will be allowed each day this weekend, and those fans will be the first to experience new video boards, concession stands, restrooms and 5G wireless connectivity.

Here’s the IndyCar weekend schedule for Indianapolis Motor Speedway Harvest GP:

(All times are Eastern)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Thursday, Oct. 1

Noon — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America test session
2:25 p.m. — IndyCar practice (NBC Sports Gold)
6:20 p.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 1 (NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Friday, Oct. 2

10:20 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
1:40 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
3:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 (USA Network, NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Saturday, Oct. 3

10:20 a.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC Sports Gold)
12:10 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America qualifying
2:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC, NBC Sports Gold)
5:30 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America pole shootout

IndyCar weekend schedule: Sunday, Oct. 4

10 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America race