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

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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.

IndyCar: Ed Carpenter Racing signs Ed Jones for road, street course races in 2019

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2017 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Ed Jones has signed on to compete in IndyCar road and street course races in 2019 for Ed Carpenter Racing, the team announced Wednesday.

Jones replaces Jordan King at ECR, whose contract was not renewed for 2019.

“Joining Ed Carpenter Racing and Scuderia Corsa for the 2019 IndyCar Series is a fantastic opportunity to be a part of,” Jones said in a media release.

Jones will also drive a third car for ECR in the 2019 Indianapolis 500, making it 13 races of the 17-race IndyCar schedule that he’s due to compete in.

“Ed Carpenter Racing has shown amazing speed the last few years at the Indianapolis 500,” Jones said. “You can always expect the ECR cars to be at the front. I am really grateful for this chance and will do everything I can to make sure we, as a team, make the most of it.”

In addition, Las Vegas-based Scuderia Corsa will become a partner with ECR on Jones’ No. 20 Chevrolet (as well as the No. 64 Chevy he’ll drive in the Indy 500).

“Both ECR and Scuderia Corsa have been successful in their respective series and I feel the combination of forces will be greatly beneficial,” Jones said. “I’m extremely excited to get underway.”

Jones will yield driving duties in the No. 20 Chevy for four races to team owner Ed Carpenter on oval tracks, while Spencer Pigot returns as the team’s full-time driver in the No. 21 Chevrolet.

“I am very excited to welcome Ed Jones to the ECR family, as well as Scuderia Corsa and Giacomo (Scuderia Corsa co-founder Giacomo Mattioli),” Carpenter said. “I was very surprised when Ed became available at the end of the season. I look forward to working together to get ECR back in Victory Lane.”

The 23-year-old Jones, who hails from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, previously drove for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2018 (finished 13th in the final season standings) and Dale Coyne Racing in 2017 (finished 14th). He won the Indy Lights championship in 2016, as did new teammate Pigot in 2015.

During the 2018 season, Jones had two podium finishes (Long Beach and Belle Isle II) and eight top-10 finishes in the 17-race campaign.

Since forming in 2012, Scuderia Corsa has earned more than 100 wins over numerous racing platforms, primarily sports-car based. However, it made its first foray into IndyCar racing by backing Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and driver Oriol Servia’s effort in the 2018 Indy 500.

Jones began his new job with ECR immediately, watching new boss Carpenter take part today (Wednesday) in a closed Firestone tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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