Getty Images

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

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.

Hunter McElrea wins Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 Scholarship

IndyCar.com
Leave a comment

Hunter McElrea bested 18 competitors to win the third annual Road to Indy USF2000 $200,000 Scholarship Shootout on Sunday at Bondurant Racing School in Chandler, Ariz.

The two-day contest featured on-track competition in Formula Mazda cars as well as interview sessions and assessment from a panel of judges.

“I can’t believe it,” McElrea said at IndyCar.com. “This is definitely the most exciting opportunity that I have had in my racing career. I cannot thank Mazda and everyone enough for making this possible for me. The fact that I am going to be on the grid next year thanks to them is a dream come true.

“They have given me the opportunity to prove myself in such a high level that I never even thought I would be able to reach. I have to thank Andersen Promotions, Cooper tires, all of the judges, everyone from Mazda, the Bondurant Racing School and the other competitors, who literally pushed me to the limit.

“I am just so happy. It is still sinking in, but I just can’t wait to get next year started, and I’ll be representing Mazda in that nice Soul Red USF2000 car.”

MORE: Michael Carter wins Mazda Road to 24 shootout

The 19-year-old McElrea was born in California, but reared in Australia.

As a result of winning the award, McElrea will compete in the 2019 season of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the first rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder.

McElrea won the Australian Formula Ford Championship this year on the strength of 13 victories in 21 races.

Early competition resulted in a final field of six drivers that included Jake Craig, Michael Eastwell, Braden Eves, Flinn Lazier and Ross Martin. They competed in a qualification session and 30-minute simulated race. McElrea won that race.

“Today was an incredible day,” said Tom Long, Mazda Motorsports factory driver and one of the judges. “There was so much talent here for the shootout. Hunter McElrea just rose to the top when it was time to shine, but our decision was very, very difficult.

“In the end, given all of the circumstances, we were able to make a pretty good decision and we are really, really proud of not only Hunter but our whole team here with Mazda to be able to grant this $200,000 scholarship for his opportunity in USF2000 next year.”