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.

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.