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Vettel secures P2 spot in F1 standings with ‘lonely’ Abu Dhabi podium

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Sebastian Vettel clinched runner-up spot in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship with a “lonely” run to third place in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he struggled to match the front-running Mercedes drivers for pace.

Vettel led the drivers’ standings from the opening round up to the Italian Grand Prix in September, only for a collapse from Ferrari through the Asian flyaways to cost him a chance of winning a fifth world title.

Vettel signed off from the 2017 season by finishing third in Abu Dhabi after failing to put up any kind of fight to Valtteri Bottas or Lewis Hamilton at the front of the field as they took a one-two finish for Mercedes.

“In the beginning I tried very hard and I think I had a good start, but then nowhere to go. I locked up a little bit and flat-spotted the first set to tires a tiny bit with that,” Vettel said.

“But then after three, four, five laps, I just couldn’t go any faster and they seemed to pull away.

“From there onwards it was pretty lonely. But then I have to say, in the second stint I really got into the car, got into the rhythm and I think we had stronger pace in the second part of the race – but not good enough to match those two guys.”

While disappointed to miss out on a fifth title at the hands of Mercedes rival Hamilton, Vettel admitted the Briton deserved the title on the podium at Yas Marina.

“Very much congratulations to Lewis on his season. He deserves to win the championship this year in the end,” Vettel said.

“I hate to say it – he was the better man, so I’m sure we will do our bit over the winter and hopefully come back stronger.

“Thanks to all the fans. The support for Ferrari has been incredible, so thank you very much. Forza Ferrari!”

Tequila Patron to end ESM and IMSA partnerships after 2018 season

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Earlier on Monday, Tequila Patron, a long-time sponsor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, both at the team level – they have a long standing partnership with Tequila Patron ESM – and the series level, announced that they will be ending their sponsorships at the end of the 2018 season.

After sponsoring Highcroft Racing in 2008 and 2009 in the American Le Mans Series, Tequila Patron and ESM formed a partnership in 2010 to launch their own team. Since then, they have scored overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans. They have also competed internationally, in both Prototype and GT categories.

“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” said team co-owner Scott Sharp via a team release.

“I have the deepest gratitude for all of (Patron CEO and ESM co-founder) Ed Brown’s support. Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team. Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world! We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain!”

IMSA President Scott Atherton also expressed gratitude toward Patron for their long-time involvement.

“IMSA and Patron Spirits have enjoyed a fantastic partnership for more than a decade. Tequila Patron rose through the IMSA ranks, from a high-profile team sponsor with Patron Highcroft Racing beginning in 2008, through its entitlement sponsorship of the Patron GT3 Challenge starting in 2009, and its presenting sponsorship of the American Le Mans Series beginning in 2010,” Atherton detailed.

He continued, “Tequila Patron continued in a prominent position as the American Le Mans Series merged with GRAND-AM to create the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and has been our entitlement partner for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup since 2014 in addition to its longstanding support of the Tequila Patron ESM race team and its pair of Nissan DPi race cars.

“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year. On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patron for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patron among our family of premium brand partners.”

Team co-owner Scott Sharp, in a story posted on SportsCar365, asserted that the ESM team has every intention of continuing in 2019.

“We’re working on a number of options,” Sharp said. “Obviously I think we’ve singly got the best team we’ve ever had, personnel-wise. Having been refining over the years and making selected additions, we’ve gotten ourselves to be super strong. The goal is keeping everyone together. We’re working through a few different options that will hopefully allow us to do that.”

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