F1 2014 Driver Review: Sebastian Vettel

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Sebastian Vettel

Team: Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 1
Races: 19
Wins: 0
Podiums (excluding wins): 4
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 2
Points: 167
Laps Led: 1
Championship Position: 5th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

There have been few title defences as tame as Sebastian Vettel’s efforts in 2014. Despite winning four straight world titles, he went into this season as the underdog following a miserable winter for Red Bull.

Malaysia saw Vettel nearly nab pole position from Lewis Hamilton before running Nico Rosberg close during the race, suggesting that Red Bull might not be in such bad shape after all. And indeed, the team did end the year with three wins, but not one came from Vettel.

The stand-out stat? Sebastian Vettel led just one lap of racing in 2014, taking the lead when Lewis Hamilton pitted from the lead in Singapore. In 2013, he led 684.

It was a year that saw Vettel struggle to work with the 2014-spec car, the RB10, and he rarely looked capable of winning a race. His two best chances came in Canada and Belgium, yet on both occasions, it was Ricciardo who took the bull by the horns.

Moving to Ferrari in 2015 gives Vettel a chance to build a team around himself and follow in Michael Schumacher’s footsteps. However, he has a lot of wounds to heal from a disappointing campaign in 2014 – will the memory of this year be character-building or character-breaking?

Don’t go thinking we’ve seen the last of him, though. Seb is still a supreme athlete and racer. He just needs to get the stars aligning once again.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

It’s hard to say Sebastian Vettel made it through 2014 unscathed from a perception standpoint. He will always be a four-time World Champion and one of the greats of his era, but his greater standing in the pantheon of all-time greats was jeopardized from a confluence of unfortunate circumstances that all seemed to hit at once.

The driver that won 38 Grands Prix and 44 pole positions from 2009 to 2013 managed to add exactly zero and zero to those totals in 2014, respectively, with only four podium finishes. Couple new teammate Daniel Ricciardo’s incredibly smooth transition into the team with his own results for the year, and it marked the first time Vettel had ever been beaten in the World Championship by a teammate over a full season.

So what were the issues? A disastrous preseason testing period slowed the team out of the gate. Unlike in past years, Vettel never got a proper handle on the car design as he had previously. The impending drawdown of Adrian Newey had to affect him. He went through several chassis during the year to try to find the right one. His longtime engineer, Guillaume “Rocky” Rocquelin, was getting a promotion to head of engineering at Red Bull for 2015, which meant Vettel would need to try to gel with someone else.

All that plus the unexpected surprise of Ricciardo surging to team number one status no doubt had to influence his departure and official switch to Ferrari, where he’ll have the chance to add to his own legacy, and perhaps try to match the feats achieved by his countryman and oft-compared reference point, Michael Schumacher.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III