Vettel: Third place the maximum for Ferrari in qualifying

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Sebastian Vettel remained upbeat after qualifying in third place for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix, believing that it was the best possible result for Ferrari given Mercedes’ pace in Shanghai.

Lewis Hamilton led home Nico Rosberg in qualifying to lock out the front row for Mercedes as Vettel finished nine-tenths of a second off pole position.

Following his surprise victory in Malaysia, many had expected Vettel to pose a stiffer challenge to the Mercedes drivers, but he felt that third was all that was possible on Saturday.

“First of all I’m happy with today I guess,” Vettel said. “It was a different strategy we had in Q3, going only once on a new set.

“Obviously these guys were a bit quicker than we expected to be honest, but I think we got everything right, and P3 was our maximum today.”

Vettel believes that Ferrari’s race pace should see it move closer to Mercedes on Sunday in China, and he is relishing the prospect of another fight with Hamilton and Rosberg.

“For tomorrow, I think we should be a bit closer,” Vettel said. “How close? We will find out. I’m definitely looking forward to going racing and to go race them tomorrow.

“It’s not very far to turn one, so I guess that’s fairly straightforward. It’s a long race. Tires are very important here, so obviously we’ll try to do well and get a lot of points.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30a ET tomorrow.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images

Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.