Getty Images

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

1 Comment

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.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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).