Vettel ‘surprised’ by suggestion of F1 team orders at Ferrari

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Sebastian Vettel is “surprised” by suggestions that Ferrari uses team orders in its Formula 1 team, believing teammate Kimi Raikkonen is pushing as hard as possible to win races.

Vettel has spearheaded Ferrari’s charge through 2017, claiming four race wins to sit at the top of the drivers’ championship heading to the team’s home grand prix at Monza this weekend.

While the rival Mercedes team has operated with a joint number one driver policy between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, Ferrari has been accused of backing Vettel over Raikkonen, believing the German to be its best bet for a first title since 2008.

Raikkonen has struggled to match Vettel for form this year, scoring 92 less points, but saw opportunities for victory in Monaco and Hungary pass by, losing the former thanks to Ferrari’s strategy call.

Vettel knocked back the suggestion when asked about team orders during Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, making reference to Raikkonen’s failure to pass him in Hungary despite struggling with a handling issue.

“I’m a bit surprised by the way things are put. Kimi and myself, I can’t speak for other people, but we’re racing each other the whole year,” Vettel said.

“I read or heard after the Hungarian Grand Prix that he was protecting me. I think if you speak to him he’ll make it pretty clear. He wasn’t leaving anything behind. If he had the opportunity to properly pass me, I think he would have tried.

“That’s fair enough. I think it would have been the same the other way around. We’re racing for the team, we’re trying to do our best. You’re racing for yourself, but you’re also racing for the team.

“It’s something you need to keep in the back of your mind. I don’t know what other teams are doing, but for us I think we both go flat out and see what happens.

“You can always talk about scenarios and so on, but it always turns out to be a bit different.”

Supercross: Talon Hawkins to debut in Houston in relief of Jalek Swoll

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Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.

During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.

That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.

This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.

Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.

“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”

Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.