Vettel thanks rain for podium finish at Silverstone, doubts Williams made a massive step

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Sebastian Vettel was the biggest winner when a late rain shower hit Silverstone during the British Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon, moving up from fifth to third in the final stages of the race.

Vettel had dropped as low as ninth after making a poor start, but managed to pick his way through the order in the dry to run fifth as light rain began to fall at Silverstone.

The decision to come in early on the same lap as race winner Lewis Hamilton proved to be the right one as Vettel overtook both Williams drivers in the closing stages to score Ferrari’s first podium finish since Monaco.

“Without the rain we would not be on the podium,” Vettel said after the race. “I think we kept our head down  and were patient enough to wait until the rain properly started to pour down.

“In the end, that’s England for you. Couple of minutes later you have sunshine.

“Obviously it helped us today, we made the right choice, came in on the right lap, the team did a great job on the radio. Thank you very much and thanks to everyone for a great atmosphere today.”

Speaking to NBCSN after the race, Vettel said that although Ferrari was fortunate with the timing of the rain, the team made the right calls.

“Well I think we finished on the podium for a reason,” Vettel said. “Obviously nobody knew it was going to rain and nobody knew it was going to be like that, so that you could call a surprise. For sure it helped us and we made the right calls.”

“We had an aggressive call with the strategy which took us back to where we started but with a massive gap to the cars in front, so not much chance to catch up. That’s when I started to look around and was hoping for some rain which came.”

Despite its cars leading for much of the race, Vettel does not believe that Williams made much progress at Silverstone, but thinks that Ferrari must understand why it was so far back.

‘I think the whole weekend we weren’t really on target,” Vettel said. “If you look at the gaps to the cars in front, they were bigger than normal.

“I don’t necessarily think Williams made a massive step because the gap between them and Mercedes was more or less the same, but for us it was bigger than usual, so that’s something we need to understand.”

Tequila Patron to end ESM and IMSA partnerships after 2018 season

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Earlier on Monday, Tequila Patron, a long-time sponsor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, both at the team level – they have a long standing partnership with Tequila Patron ESM – and the series level, announced that they will be ending their sponsorships at the end of the 2018 season.

After sponsoring Highcroft Racing in 2008 and 2009 in the American Le Mans Series, Tequila Patron and ESM formed a partnership in 2010 to launch their own team. Since then, they have scored overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans. They have also competed internationally, in both Prototype and GT categories.

“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” said team co-owner Scott Sharp via a team release.

“I have the deepest gratitude for all of (Patron CEO and ESM co-founder) Ed Brown’s support. Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team. Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world! We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain!”

IMSA President Scott Atherton also expressed gratitude toward Patron for their long-time involvement.

“IMSA and Patron Spirits have enjoyed a fantastic partnership for more than a decade. Tequila Patron rose through the IMSA ranks, from a high-profile team sponsor with Patron Highcroft Racing beginning in 2008, through its entitlement sponsorship of the Patron GT3 Challenge starting in 2009, and its presenting sponsorship of the American Le Mans Series beginning in 2010,” Atherton detailed.

He continued, “Tequila Patron continued in a prominent position as the American Le Mans Series merged with GRAND-AM to create the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and has been our entitlement partner for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup since 2014 in addition to its longstanding support of the Tequila Patron ESM race team and its pair of Nissan DPi race cars.

“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year. On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patron for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patron among our family of premium brand partners.”

Team co-owner Scott Sharp, in a story posted on SportsCar365, asserted that the ESM team has every intention of continuing in 2019.

“We’re working on a number of options,” Sharp said. “Obviously I think we’ve singly got the best team we’ve ever had, personnel-wise. Having been refining over the years and making selected additions, we’ve gotten ourselves to be super strong. The goal is keeping everyone together. We’re working through a few different options that will hopefully allow us to do that.”

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