Mistake on Q3 lap leaves Vettel eighth on Belgian GP grid

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Sebastian Vettel was left ruing a mistake on his final lap in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday that means he will start tomorrow’s race from from eighth place.

Vettel entered the second half of the 2015 Formula 1 season on a high after winning the Hungarian Grand Prix last month, but was unable to carry this form into qualifying at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

The German driver’s fastest lap of 1:48.825 in Q3 was in fact slower than his best time from Q2, and meant that he could only finish ninth at the end of the session.

Although Vettel will make up a position by virtue of Romain Grosjean’s five-place grid penalty, he was disappointed with his performance on Saturday.

“In Q2 we were third and it was very tight if you look at the lap times,” Vettel said.

“In Q3 I was having the same pace, unfortunately I was not able to improve like others, also lost some time at the last corner, and that’s why we’re not in front.”

Vettel remains upbeat ahead of tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix, though, believing that Ferrari can bounce back from its worst qualifying performance of the season so far.

“I don’t think there’s a reason to panic,” he said. “For sure we’re not happy, I lost two or maybe three tenths, but tomorrow we should have a decent pace and pretty good straightline speed to turn things around.

“We have a good car and a strong package for the race. There’s a lot to be done tomorrow, it’s a long race, the starting and first turn will be interesting and there could be some rain at some point. There’s nothing wrong so we’re expecting progress.”

In the sister Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen had a more trying day as he suffered a fall in oil pressure that caused his car to grind to a halt during Q2. As a result, the Finn will start P14 on Sunday.

“I don’t know exactly what happened, I lost some drive and had to stop,” Raikkonen said.

“Our car has been handling pretty nice all weekend, unfortunately the issue has come at the bad time, my position could have been a bit better.

“My starting position will make my race very tricky but I hope that the race condition will turn in our favour. It’s important to go through the first corner: even if it won’t be easy to get past Mercedes-engined cars, we’ll keep fighting and doing our best.”

The Belgian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday.

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.