Vettel: Mercedes further ahead than Red Bull ever was

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Sebastian Vettel believes that the advantage that Mercedes currently enjoys at the beginning of the 2014 Formula 1 season is greater than Red Bull’s ever was over the past five years.

Mercedes has made a superb start to the season, leading every lap and claiming four one-two finishes to accompany its five wins. As a result, the German marque leads the constructors’ championship by over 100 points after just five rounds.

“We’ve never been in that kind of position,” Vettel explained in Monaco yesterday. “It’s easy now to look back and say we dominated everything and it was easy, but the way I remember it was a little bit different to that.

“I don’t think we ever started the season with five wins as a team. We had a different and strong finish last year but if you look at the races and the gaps, I think it’s a different story.”

Vettel and Red Bull won four world championships together between 2010 and 2013, and it culminated in a superb run of nine straight wins at the end of last season. However, the team rarely outclassed the field in the comfortable fashion that Mercedes has so far this year.

“We’ve been at the top the last couple of years, we know how it feels like and the sort of things you have to deal with, probably now they are in a similar position and they deserve it as they do the best job,” Vettel explained, praising the German team.

“You have to respect that Mercedes has a strong package so they will be very strong here I guess.

“Nico and Lewis are very good around here so they will be the ones to beat but maybe we can be a bit closer.”

In first practice earlier today, Red Bull did appear to have made a step forward as Daniel Ricciardo finished within three-tenths of first-placed Lewis Hamilton. Nevertheless, Mercedes does remain the team to beat, and barring something out of the ordinary, it is difficult to see that changing any time soon.

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

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“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).