Ferrari impresses in qualifying with fourth and fifth, but Vettel and Raikkonen want more

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Ferrari’s new era got off to a good start in today’s qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix, as Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen qualified fourth and fifth respectively.

However – in perhaps a sign of things to come – neither driver was completely pleased with their performance on Saturday, believing that Felipe Massa could have been beaten to third place behind the two Mercedes drivers.

Vettel will make his Ferrari debut on Sunday, and has set his sights on a podium finish after an impressive first qualifying session for the Italian team.

“Let’s keep our feet on the ground,” Vettel said. “So far this weekend, it’s gone well and we’ve had no problems with the car. It’s a shame that third place escaped us, as that would have made us the first team behind Mercedes, but it wasn’t by much and, after all the race is tomorrow.

“In terms of strategy, maybe we could have done something different, but basically the result is down to me. First and second are a long way in front, but the race is tomorrow and anything can happen during the Grand Prix.

“A podium? There’s not much of a gap between third and fourth on the grid, so I think the podium is a realistic goal and that’s what we have to aim for.”

After a disappointing 2014 season, P5 on the grid appears to be an incredible result for Raikkonen, but the Finn was not happy with his final display in Q3.

“On my quick lap, I lost around three tenths at turn 3 and then I made a couple of mistakes in the next two corners,” Raikkonen said. “We knew we couldn’t fight the Mercedes, at least not in today’s qualifying, but third place on the grid was possible.

“In any case, during free practice, we saw that our long runs are pretty good, so we can be confident of having a good race. All we need to do is get a good start and then give it our best, but I think we can fight for a good position.

“As a team, we are working well together and we have a pretty clear picture of the situation. We know we are quick, but we need to improve in all sectors and, as for myself, I have to drive better.”

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).