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Ferrari disappointed after falling behind Red Bull in Spain qualifying

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Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel made no secret of their disappointment after qualifying behind both Mercedes and Red Bull for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne said that he expected Ferrari to return to winning ways soon, but the marque looked further away from doing so than at any point so far this season on Saturday in Barcelona.

Raikkonen could only qualify fifth with a late lap, while a scruffy effort from Sebastian Vettel left him sixth on the grid – both over one second behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.

Having comfortably been the second-fastest team for some time, to lose out to Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen was concerning for Ferrari.

“It was not an easy day. We did our best, but the result is a bit disappointing,” Raikkonen said.

“We seemed to struggle quite a lot in the last sector and I’m not surprised we were losing a lot of time there. Before qualifying we made some changes to my set-up and the car felt better, but it was not easy to get the laps that we wanted and make the handling exactly as we desired.

“The car felt OK yesterday, today I was quicker, but the wind has been turning around a bit, making some places quite tricky. My last run was better than so far today, but obviously it’s not where we want to be.

“Our rivals did a better job today, we have to keep working and improving and see what we can do tomorrow in the race.”

Vettel admitted that, while disappointed, he was not surprised to have lost out to Mercedes and Red Bull.

“I think every day can be tough but for sure I didn’t expect to be that far off, especially because this morning we had a good rhythm,” Vettel said.

“I didn’t get hold of the car, I didn’t get the feeling that I had earlier today, and couldn’t nail the laps. I don’t think that it is a surprise, if you don’t get it together here it can be quite costly, and we know this.

“I think the gap to Mercedes is bigger than it has been all weekend. So clearly we didn’t get it right.

“As for tomorrow’s race, for sure the further up you qualify, the better: this rule applies everywhere. We will focus on the start, first lap and then there is a long race, and lot of things we can do.

“Usually there are several pit-stops here so we can play with the strategy and pass people that are slower than us.

“I think the car is quicker than P6, so I have high hopes for tomorrow.”

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

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).