F1: Sebastian Vettel admits his small mistake came at big cost for team in German GP

Getty Images
2 Comments

HOCKENHEIM, Germany (AP) — Even though Sebastian Vettel has won four Formula One titles and 51 races, he is still prone to worrying lapses of concentration.

The Ferrari driver accepted his small mistake at Sunday’s German Grand Prix cost his team in a big way, and gifted Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes a victory they could hardly have expected.

Leading both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships before the race, Vettel and Ferrari are now behind in both.

As the rain came thudding down at the Hockenheim ring – near to where Vettel grew up – his judgment seemed to slip away.

Leading from pole position with only 15 laps to go, Vettel misjudged a routine entry into a turn, slid off the track and slammed into the barriers.

Race over.

Even worse, Hamilton profited from his mistake to reclaim the championship lead by 17 points.

“I threw it away. It was my mistake. We had the pace and we controlled the race for most of it,” Vettel said. “We had the race in the bag.”

Vettel, who made key mistakes last season as Hamilton secured the title, seemed keen to use the rain as a factor for his crash on Sunday.

“It’s not like tonight I’ll have difficulties to fall asleep, because of what I’ve done wrong. We didn’t need the rain,” he said. “It was a small mistake but a big impact on the race. A tiny bit too late on the brakes, I locked the rears and I couldn’t turn. It wasn’t the biggest mistake I’ve done, but one of the mostly costly ones.”

Vettel climbed out of the car and kicked the gravel in frustration.

“I realized quickly that it was over,” said Vettel, who again played down his mistake. “I think it feels better if it’s spectacular, because then you’ve done something really wrong.” He added that “I didn’t do much wrong” but his performance was “not enough to finish the race.”

Vettel and Hamilton are both chasing a fifth F1 crown to move level with Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio and go two behind record-holder Michael Schumacher.

After the Azerbaijan GP in June 2017, Hamilton publicly spoke about his rival’s apparent vulnerability under pressure as something he could exploit.

Vettel had played a very weak hand in Baku. Irritated by what he perceived to be Hamilton’s deliberately slow driving behind a safety car, he accelerated alongside the British driver and then inexplicably swerved into the left side of his Mercedes.

Vettel subsequently apologized but by September the German driver had lost his way, never regaining the momentum after a huge mistake in Singapore.

Before that Grand Prix, Vettel was only three points behind Hamilton with seven races remaining. He took pole position and, better still, Hamilton was fifth on the grid. It was the perfect scenario but Vettel went diagonally across the track to cut off Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and crashed out of the Singapore GP. With 25 points beckoning, Vettel got none. The nightmare scenario concluded with Hamilton profiting from the chaos to win.

It was a similar scenario at Hockenheim on Sunday.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
0 Comments

Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.