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Vettel ‘chickened’ on brakes in China Q3 lap, happy to split Mercedes

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Sebastian Vettel missed the chance to take Ferrari’s first pole position in Formula 1 in 18 months after falling two-tenths short of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, revealing he lost time at the final corner of his best lap.

Vettel took his first win for Ferrari since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix two weeks ago in Australia, defeating Hamilton in a straight fight as the Italian marque lived up to its pre-season pace.

Vettel entered qualifying in Shanghai as one of the favorites for pole, showing a good pace in the dry final practice on Saturday morning, only to finish 0.186 seconds slower than Hamilton in the final Q3 shootout.

The closer margin for Vettel was that to Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who finished just 0.001 seconds behind the Ferrari driver.

“Obviously it was a nice session, I enjoyed it a lot. If we had been a bit quicker in the end I would have enjoyed it more,” Vettel said.

“[I] think I was very happy with the lap I had. Last corner I maybe lost a little bit, maybe chickened onto the brakes a bit too soon. But yeah, obviously it was very close with Valtteri so good job we just got enough margin to make it to the front row.”

The qualifying result in China mirrored that in Australia, where Vettel looked stronger in the race, but the German said Ferrari’s SF70H car had no particular advantage in short-run or long-run pace.

“I think our car is strong no matter what. It obviously depends what these guys are doing,” Vettel said.

“Certainly we’ve seen in previous years in qualy they seem to be able to really get on top of what they have. I think we can still improve.

“Let’s see what the race looks like tomorrow. Conditions I think will be quite different, so maybe we should put fuel in the car and race now! I don’t know what happens tomorrow.”

The Australian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 1am ET on Sunday.

IndyCar at IMS Friday: How to watch, start times, live streaming info

IndyCar Indianapolis start times
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With three races remaining in the NTT IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon has a commanding lead and history on his side entering Friday’s opener of the Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The five-time series champion leads defending champ Josef Newgarden by 72 points.

Since 2014, the points leader with three races left has won the championship in five of the past six years, including Dixon in ’18.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has led the championship standings following every round after opening 2020 with three consecutive victories. Dixon also led the points by 78 points with three races remaining when he won the title in 2008.

Dixon, Newgarden, Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato are championship eligible.

Anyone outside 108 points of the lead after Indy will be eliminated heading into the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Here is the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course schedule for Friday (all times are ET), including details and start times:


Indianapolis Motor Speedway TV schedule for Friday

IndyCar Harvest GP Race 1: 3:30 p.m., USA Network, NBC Sports Gold and streaming on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for IndyCar on NBCSN this weekend with analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.


IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway start times, information

COMMAND TO START ENGINES: 3:53 p.m.

GREEN FLAG: 4 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 85 laps (207.35 miles) around Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in Indianapolis.

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Nine sets primary, five sets alternate (A 10th set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie.) Teams must use one set of primary and one set of alternate tires in the race.

PUSH TO PASS: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 57 degrees with a 0% chance of rain at the green flag.

QUALIFYING: 6:20 p.m. Thursday (NBC Sports Gold)

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the 25 drivers racing this weekend at Indianapolis