Vettel wins first individual Race of Champions title in London

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LONDON – Sebastian Vettel has won his first individual Race of Champions title after beating Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen 2-0 in the final at London’s former Olympic Stadium.

Vettel battled past Petter Solberg, Nico Hulkenberg and David Coulthard before winning the final, adding the individual trophy to his six Nations Cup titles.

IndyCar racer Ryan-Hunter Reay was the first winner of the day in London, easing past Nations Cup teammate Jose Maria Lopez 2-0. However, he was knocked out in the last 16 by Andy Priaulx, who had also claimed the scalp of DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein earlier in the day en route to the quarter-finals.

ROC Factor winner Bradley Philpot caused an upset in the first round by dumping out five-time MotoGP champion Mick Doohan. Although his fairytale story ended at the next stage when he lost 2-0 to Alex Buncombe, making it so far nevertheless marked a major achievement for the racing instructor from Southampton, England.

Susie Wolff bid farewell to competitive motorsport after she lost 2-0 to defending champion David Coulthard in the last 16, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd after finishing her race. She was joined on the sidelines by F1 drivers Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean and Jenson Button who lost at the same stage to Nico Hulkenberg, Jason Plato and Felipe Massa respectively.

Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of winning a maiden Race of Champions individual title started in good fashion as he defeated Petter Solberg 2-0. Solberg’s teammate Tom Kristensen kept the flag flying for Team Nordic though as he defeated Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr. 2-0 to make the last eight.

Vettel faced off against Nations Cup teammate Hulkenberg in the first quarter-final, making it through 2-0. He was drawn up against Coulthard in the last four after the Scot beat Massa 2-0, but was taken to a decider in a tense fight to reach the final. A jump start saw Coulthard receive a five-second penalty, but Vettel managed to win with ease regardless, taking him into his maiden individual Race of Champions final.

In the bottom half of the draw, Saturday’s Nations Cup winners saw their hopes of following this up with individual success end as Plato lost 2-0 to Kristensen, while Priaulx – widely tipped as the man to beat – was dumped out by Buncombe in a decider.

Experience shone through in the battle of the endurance racers as Kristensen beat Buncombe 2-0 in the second semi-final, setting up a final showdown with Vettel. Buncombe may have fallen short, but it nevertheless marked an impressive Race of Champions debut for the Briton.

A good start for Vettel in the first heat set him up to edge out Kristensen by 0.5 seconds in the Radicals, putting him within one win of the title. An issue with Kristensen’s ROC buggy for the second heat forced the drivers to switch to the X-Bows, and after a 20 minute wait, the drivers lined up for the second heat.

Both made a clean getaway, but a mistake from Kristensen at the first corner saw him hit the barrier. Although he was able to continue, the time lost as not recoverable, allowing Vettel to take a second win and clinch his first individual Race of Champions title.

“Of course I’m very happy and honored to win, but that took a while!” Vettel said after the final. “A lot of world class racing drivers have won this trophy. I’ve tried to win this many times and failed many times but finally I’ve succeeded.

“What the Race Of Champions gives us is a lot of joy. When we were kids starting to race, we did it for pure joy and this sort of event is a good reminder of that. When you close the visor, ultimately victory is still what drives you.

“But I’ve tried to win this so many times, today was more like a surprise. We all know this format is very difficult because no one gets much time in the cars so you need to find your rhythm quickly.

“Today I had the feeling I found it straightaway. It was very cold but it was a great atmosphere so thank you very much to everyone for coming to watch.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.