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Vettel surprised, pumped up after charge to Singapore GP pole

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Sebastian Vettel was left running high on adrenaline after producing a stunning final lap in Formula 1 qualifying to take pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday night.

After finishing 11th in practice on Friday, Vettel’s chances of extending his impressive record in Singapore appeared to be fading, only for the Ferrari driver to burst back into life in qualifying.

Vettel trailed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in both Q1 and Q2, but turned things around when it mattered in Q3 to beat the Dutchman to pole position by three-tenths of a second.

Vettel let his emotions go with a long series of shouts and cheers over team radio after his pole lap, and admitted after the session he was surprised by the time he found.

“I don’t know, I struggled also this afternoon. I shouted as loud as [the crowd], it was unbelievable,” Vettel said.

“I’m still full of adrenaline so maybe whatever I say doesn’t make any sense but I love this track.

“The car was tricky but it came alive and it got better and better as the night progressed, so really happy we got it done.”

Despite being the 49th pole of an illustrious F1 career, the lap was widely regarded as being one of the finest for Vettel, coming at a time when the title fight with Lewis Hamilton (who qualified P5) is on a knife-edge.

When asked by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton where the pole lap ranked for Vettel among his best, he said: “I don’t know. I think I need to calm down first.

“I’m very, very happy. That was amazing. It’s an amazing track if you feel the car is coming alive and you can do what you want to.

“I knew we had it in us, it was a bit of a struggle to get there but now I’m just happy.”

With Red Bull drivers Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo both running Vettel close in qualifying, the Ferrari driver is braced for a tough fight in the race.

“I’m happy we got the car where it needed to be and we take it from there. Tomorrow is a long race but these guys are very, very quick,” Vettel said.

“We had a difficult night yesterday but a better night today and I’m sure the car will be like today tomorrow.

“So it will be better but for sure it will be a close race.”

The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

NHRA: Dodge/Mopar to unveil new Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car today in Denver

Photos/video courtesy Dodge/Mopar
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If you’re a fan of NHRA Funny Car racing and Dodge/Mopar, you may notice something different at this weekend’s Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Denver, Colorado.

Two-time (2011 and 2014) NHRA Funny Car champ Matt Hagan – who has won the last two NHRA national events in the last four weeks – will be piloting a newly-designed 2019 Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a 10,000-horsepower Funny Car that makes its debut today at Dodge/Mopar’s premier NHRA national event.

The new Charger SRT Hellcat succeeds the former Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, which had been in use since 2015.

“We improved on the body design,” Hagan said of the new Charger Hellcat. “It was already a great design, a great body. But now, we’re going to have a little more downforce, a little more traction on these racetracks and it will be a huge performance advantage.”

The new Hellcat includes a number of innovations, including a new front splitter to increase downforce. Just like its predecessor, the R/T, the Hellcat will go head-to-head with Chevrolet’s Camaro in the NHRA Funny Car ranks.

“We will be able to press harder with more downforce on the nose, which translates into huge amounts of downforce on the run,” Hagan said.

According to a media release, the new Hellcat features major design changes in three key areas: the front end, bodysides and burst panel placement:

* “At the front, the shape of the nose has been tweaked and a new splitter (photo), built of carbon fiber and Kevlar like the rest of the Funny Car body, has been added. The splitter substantially mimics the look and shape of the production vehicle’s splitter while generating greater downforce to help plant the Funny Car to the track.

* “Bodyside scallops have been redesigned to more closely identify with the production Hellcat while also enhancing on-track function and performance. The deeper character lines provide greater visual ties to the street version of the Hellcat, while also helping to mitigate the “body burn” common on all Funny Cars due to the close positioning of the exhaust headers.

* “The location of the burst panel on the hood has also been reworked. The panel is now centered over the top of the engine to more efficiently release energy and pressure in the event of engine issues, a common occurrence in race cars that are pushed to the razor’s edge of performance.”

Since the R/T was first introduced into the Don Schumacher Racing corps, it has gone on to 50 wins, 42 runner-up finishes and 40 No. 1 qualifiers in NHRA national events and one NHRA Funny Car World Championship (Ron Capps, 2016).

The new Charger SRT Hellcat, which can exceed 330-plus mph and covers 1,000 feet in under four seconds, is the drag strip version of the supercharged, 707-horsepower production Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.

While Hagan will drive the first Hellcat, his other three Dodge-powered DSR teammates – Capps, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. – will soon take delivery of their own versions of the car over the remaining 11 races of the 2018 season.

One day after winning two weeks ago at Norwalk, Ohio, Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables put the new Hellcat through its paces with several test runs. The results were so strong that it was decided to debut the car at Denver and run all qualifying and elimination rounds with it.

“We made four good, solid runs in testing at Norwalk,” said Hagan. “We put the body through a lot of different things and were really, really pleased with it.

“I really think it’s going to translate over to performance on the race track, and hopefully more win lights in the future.”

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