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.

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).