Vettel: Third the best Red Bull could achieve today

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Sebastian Vettel believes that qualifying in third place for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix was the best that he could do during today’s session at Spa-Francorchamps.

The defending F1 world champion will start behind the two Mercedes drivers for the race tomorrow after running well in the wet conditions, but he does not feel that he could have made up the two second gap to pole sitter Nico Rosberg.

“Well I think it would be nice to be further up, but obviously the gap is quite big, so I think it was the best we could do today,” Vettel conceded. “It was a tricky qualifying, especially Q2 looked very tight for us, so trying to stay out on the same set of tires, it started to rain heavier.

“I was quite confident that the track would get quicker and I wanted to save that extra set for Q3, so it was quite tight. I got the lap in the end because the circuit did pick up, and in Q3 I was able to use an old set of tires. It was obviously very tight behind the Mercedes.

“It was tricky out there, especially through Eau Rouge, so I had a couple of moments, but it was a good challenge and, for sure, happy with third.”

Vettel will line up ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, and will be hoping to cut the gap to both drivers in the championship with a good result in the race tomorrow. However, it would seem that his aspirations of a first win of the season at Spa may be a little unrealistic given Mercedes’ dominant pace in both dry and wet conditions.

Chief technical officer Adrian Newey did say yesterday that this weekend is about “damage limitation” for Red Bull, but with its cars third and fifth on the grid, a good haul of points may not be so improbable.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.