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Hamilton, Rosberg: Ferrari in the hunt for 2016 F1 titles

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Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg believe that Ferrari poses a more serious threat to Mercedes in the fight for the Formula 1 championships in 2016 after enjoying a strong first race in Australia.

Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid in qualifying, only for Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen to run first and second for the early part of the race.

Had it not been for a dud tire call under a red flag, Vettel would likely have been in contention for the race win, but ultimately had to settle for third place behind Rosberg and Hamilton.

However, Ferrari’s pace was enough to make clear to both Mercedes drivers that the Italian manufacturer will be a more serious threat in 2016.

“I think they’re stronger this year for sure,” Hamilton told NBCSN after the race in Australia.

“There’s going to be more races that they’re ahead or at least with us in the battle, which is hopefully what the fans wanted to see. I hope that was exciting for them.

“I love this track, it’s just unfortunate with the car the way it is that you can’t follow. None of us can. It’s so hard to overtake. But hopefully at these other tracks, you’re going to see some of that real racing.”

When asked if he relished the battle with Ferrari, Hamilton said: “Bring it, let’s go!”

Rosberg echoed his teammate’s comments, believing that Mercedes must be wary of the threat posed this season.

“Ferrari is in the hunt. They looked quick, yeah,” Rosberg said.

“We need to be careful and keep pushing definitely. They’re close.”

Vettel remained coy when asked about Ferrari’s relative standing to Mercedes in 2016, saying that the team will continue to fight until it is at the head of the pack.

“We know that the car is good in the race. We know we’re lacking a bit in qualifying, obviously that’s good news because it matters on Sunday, not Saturday,” Vettel said.

“We want to be the favorites, we want to be the ones to beat. We don’t want to be lucky and then end up in the right spot. We want to earn that spot.

“There’s a lot of work ahead of us. Right now they are the favorites, so there’s a lot of work but equally a big thanks to the team. Things are coming together bit by bit and we’re on the right track.”

Despite Ferrari’s strong showing in Australia, Vettel said that he would not begin thinking about a possible bid for a fifth drivers’ championship until later in the season.

“This is only round one. I’ve always had the philosophy that race one, even until the summer break, you don’t think about the championship,” Vettel said.

“You try to do your best, you race flat out. That’s what I love, that’s what I’m here for. Everything else comes naturally.”

IndyCar entry lists for Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

IndyCar entry lists Indianapolis
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There are 25 drivers on the NTT IndyCar Series entry lists at Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with a few new yet familiar faces for the Oct. 2-3 race weekend.

Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais will make his season debut in the No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet (shifting Dalton Kellett to the No. 41) with AJ Foyt Racing, which he is joining full time next season. James Hinchcliffe, who had run three races with Andretti Autosport, will return in place of Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Helio Castroneves will drive Arrow McLaren SP’s No. 7 Dallara-Chevy for Oliver Askew, who is out with concussion-like symptoms.

Sage Karam, who has two IndyCar starts this year at IMS (the road course on July 4 and the Indy 500 on Aug. 23), also will return to the series in Dreyer & Reinbold’s No. 24 Dallara-Chevrolet.

HARVEST GP ENTRY LISTS: Friday l Saturday

Friday and Saturday of the Harvest GP presented by GMR will mark the second and third races this season on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. While the July 4 race on the circuit was 80 laps, Friday’s distance is 85 laps, and Saturday will be a 75-lap event.

Championship leader Scott Dixon led 26 of 80 laps to win the July 4 race at the IMS road course. With three races remaining in the series, the five-time series champion enters with a 72-point lead on Josef Newgarden.

Click here to see who’s on the IndyCar entry lists in Race 1 and in Race 2 for the Harvest GP presented by GMR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.


START TIMES AND TV INFO FOR INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE (all times ET):

Thursday

IndyCar NTT Series practice: 2:25-3:40 p.m., NBC Sports Gold

IndyCar qualifying, Race 1: 6:20 p.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

Friday

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 1: 3:30 p.m. (green flag, 5 p.m.), USA Network, NBC Sports Gold

Saturday

—IndyCar qualifying: 10:20 a.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold

—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 2: 2:30 p.m (green flag, 2:31 p.m.)., NBC, NBC Sports Gold