Vettel feels fortunate, but happy with Australian Grand Prix win

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Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who was victorious on Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, was relieved that the team’s strategy, which saw him run longer on his opening stint than those around him, most notably early race leader Lewis Hamilton, worked to perfection to vault Vettel up from third on the grid and into the lead, which he held for the entire second half of the race on his way to victory.

“It’s been the other way around a couple times, especially last year. So, I think what goes around comes around. Maybe sometimes it feels bad to wait for it, so on a day like this obviously you don’t mind,” Vettel said to Formula 1’s Will Buxton during a post-race edition of F1 Paddock Pass.

Vettel added that the Virtual Safety Car period, brought out by Haas F1’s Team’s Romain Grosjean when he stopped on course with a loose wheel, was a scenario that the team had discussed in great detail ahead of the race, and things worked out exactly as they had planned.

“Obviously, we did our homework,” Vettel quipped. “We spoke about exactly that (scenario) before the race. Obviously, you never know what happens, and that’s the proof you have to remain sharp. As soon as I saw the Virtual Safety Car I knew what to do. And we tried to do everything, and it worked. It was tight, but it worked.”

Conversely, Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton, who led early after starting on the pole, was dumbfounded that the race got away from them after a dominant display in qualifying saw him outqualify the field by over half a second.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 25: Second placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP on the podium during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 25, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

“I am in disbelief because I did everything I was supposed to do. I came, I was prepared, I drove as well as I could, I didn’t put a foot wrong and all of the sudden I came out behind (Vettel) and I was thinking ‘What just happened?’ I’m sure the team is feeling pain right now, but we’ll regroup and I’m sure we’ll work on it,” he explained in the aforementioned F1 Paddock Pass video.

Hamilton added that, while his F1 W09 EQ Power+ is certainly quick, he expects Ferrari to be neck and neck with Mercedes all year.

They had some good pace today,” he said of Ferrari’s performance. “We’re going to other races where they’re going to potentially be…their performance is going to be a little bit higher, and there’s going to be races where our performance is a little bit higher. But, I think it’s going to be a close battle through the year.”

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Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.