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!”

Supercross: Husqvarna’s Jalek Swoll and Malcolm Stewart out with injury

Swoll Stewart injury
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Jalek Swoll and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Malcolm Stewart sustained injury in separate crashes late last week. Stewart missed Anaheim 2 and Swoll will not mount up for the 250 East season opener in Houston on February 4.

“Spent all of yesterday in the ER and today getting surgery so haven’t been able to make an update post,” Swoll posted on Instagram. “Spiral fractured my humorous yesterday and was lucky enough to get into surgery today. Absolutely heartbroken that I couldn’t show all the hard work me, [Mike Brown], [Aldon Baker], and [Joel Perez] were working on truly felt like this year was going to a big one with massive improvements we made but I guess it just wasn’t my time.”

The team announced on Instagram that Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm, sustained in a practice crash on Friday. After missing the division opener, no further timeline has been given for his return.

Swoll made eight starts in the 250 West division last season with a best finish of fifth. In 2021, he scored his first SuperMotocross win in the outdoor Pro Motocross season at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.

Stewart missed Anaheim 2 due to a practice injury. Likewise, the team did not announce a timetable for Stewart’s return.

He showed a lot of speed in the first two rounds before accidents eliminated him from contention in both rounds. He finished 16th at Anaheim 1 and 15th in San Diego, putting him in a points’ deficit that was already going to be difficult to overcome.

Stewart entered the 2023 season with a ton of confidence and believed all he needed was to stack his chips the right way to get this year’s championship.

Husqvarna is now represented by RJ Hampshire in the 250 West division and Christian Craig in 450s.

Hampshire had a rough weekend in Anaheim 2 and finished 11th in the overall standings after scoring a last place result in Race 2 with a bike sidelined by crash damage and a 13th in Race 3 after another fall.

Craig has not yet scored a top-10 on his 450 with a best of 11th at San Diego and Anaheim 2.

The news of these two injuries comes on the heels of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team losing three of their four 250 riders.

Last week, Pro Circuit Kawasaki announced Seth Hammaker would miss the season opener with a wrist injury. Almost immediately, it was announced Jo Shimoda would also miss the 250 East opener with a shoulder injury.

Chris Blose will serve as a replacement rider in the 250 East division with Carson Mumford scheduled to replace the injured Austin Forkner in the West.