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Vettel revels in Hungary F1 pole, Ferrari’s continued progress

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Sebastian Vettel reveled in Ferrari’s “incredible” charge to a front row lock-out for the Hungarian Grand Prix, believing it to act as further proof of the progress the Italian marque has made in the past 12 months.

F1 championship leader Vettel stormed to his second pole of the year with the fastest ever lap of the Hungaroring on Saturday, leading home teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

The result marked Ferrari’s third pole of the year, a total it has not reached through a season since 2008, with Vettel praising the performance of the SF70H car.

“The car to be honest all day today has been incredible. I think we did a good step forward, really enjoyable,” Vettel said.

“I like this track a lot. A front row for us which is incredible, and now we’re looking forward to tomorrow.

“Obviously the last race wasn’t great for us, but it doesn’t matter now. We are here and try to do our best. That’s what matters. Really step by step, very happy with where we are as a team.

“Again, we need to remember where we were 12 months ago and where we are now. Also thanks for the support and people believing in us. It’s great to get the result also on Saturday.

“As I said, the main task comes tomorrow. Nothing won today, but we’re very happy and we’ll take it to move forward.”

Vettel currently leads the drivers’ championship by one point, and is well-poised to extend his advantage and gain momentum ahead of the F1 summer break, but the German is giving that little thought right now.

“To be honest, numbers… I was decent I would say at maths at school, but it’s way too early,” Vettel said.

“I think we go racing, we go flat out. That’s what we’ve been doing in the first races and that’s what we keep doing. It’s the only way to succeed.

“Certainly we have a lot of boost from people here at home and in Italy. It can’t be any better than that. The main thing is to enjoy it.”

The Hungarian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app 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).