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F1: Vettel concerned after losing pole to Hamilton

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SINGAPORE (AP) Asked what Mercedes is doing better than his Ferrari team, Sebastian Vettel chose not to go into detail.

It was late Saturday in sweltering Singapore and archrival Lewis Hamilton had just driven brilliantly to secure pole position for Mercedes.

Vettel sat glum-faced in the news conference after qualifying third, trailing Hamilton by a sizeable margin in Formula 1 terms: 0.6 seconds.

“Other people did a better job,” Vettel said tersely when asked what made the difference. “That includes Lewis’ lap as an individual, but (also) them as a team.”

Ferrari led after the second and third practice on a track suited to its car. Yet in qualifying, Hamilton was nearly one second faster than sixth-placed Kimi Raikkonen.

“Not happy with how the day went, it wasn’t as smooth as it should have been,” Vettel said. “Just disappointing we didn’t get the maximum out of our package. … Lewis had a good lap, congrats to him. But I don’t think it was unbeatable.”

Vettel was asked where his team could have done better.

“Going into detail, I don’t think there’s much point … maybe with preparing the qualifying,” he said. “(The laps) were not strong enough or good enough to be near.”

However, Vettel did seem impressed with Mercedes.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Lewis and their efforts as a team. Because they did great and that’s why they are on pole by quite a margin.”

Trailing Hamilton by 30 points, with six races left after Singapore, Vettel needs to win soon to stop Hamilton pulling away again. The British driver clinched the title last year, beating second-placed Vettel by 46 points.

Tensions have been creeping in at Ferrari.

At the rain-soaked German GP in July, Vettel looked certain to win but crashed while leading, gifting Hamilton an unexpected victory.

Vettel then botched qualifying in Hungary, again in the rain, as Hamilton took pole and won to stretch his series lead.

Then, at the Belgian GP, Vettel was unhappy with his team after running out of battery late in qualifying. He was beaten to pole by Hamilton, with Raikkonen sixth after the team couldn’t get him back out on track quickly enough with the end of the session approaching.

Although Ferrari took a convincing 1-2 in qualifying at the Italian GP two weeks ago – Raikkonen ahead of Vettel – Vettel spun off track after a shaky start and finished fourth to concede more ground.

Ferrari has made some alarming blunders for such a prestigious and famed team.

A team mechanic’s leg was broken by Raikkonen after an unsafe pit release at the Bahrain GP. In Hungary, the team forgot to fill Raikkonen’s drinks bottle, meaning he drove the whole race in sweltering conditions without water.

Donny Schatz edges Kyle Larson for Outlaws victory at Lake Ozark

Trent Gower/World of Outlaws
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Donny Schatz made a last-lap pass on Kyle Larson, snatching a World of Outlaws victory Saturday night at Lake Ozark Speedway.

Larson started on the pole, led 30 of 35 laps and was in control until a caution set up a two-lap shootout to the finish before a limited crowd in Eldon, Missouri.

Schatz and Larson traded the lead twice over the final two laps, but the 10-time champion emerged with his first victory since the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returned in mid-May from a two-month layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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“Man, I don’t know what to say, but Kyle’s a damn good racer,” Schatz, who led five laps, told DirtVision after his 296th Outlaws win. “I kind of had to go where he didn’t. We got that green-white-checkered, and I decided I was going to send it. He decided the same thing.

Donny Schatz celebrates at Lake Ozark Speedway after his second Outlaws Sprint Car victory of the season (Trent Gower).

“I’m glad to get the win. It feels like it’s been forever. I’ve been out here 24 years, and every night is a learning experience still.”

Larson finished second in his fifth start since he began racing with the Outlaws after being suspended from NASCAR.

“Obviously, it would have been nice to get the win,” Larson said on DirtVision. “I figured Donny would rip the middle. The restarts before, he’d almost clear me in (turns) 3 and 4. I should have known to protect and block his momentum. I felt I exited 2 OK. We don’t have spotters or rearview mirrors so you can’t see how close he is or really hear it when the pace is so slow.

“I just didn’t do a good enough job to run a smarter final couple of laps.”

Brad Sweet, Larson’s brother in law, finished third, with Shane Stewart and David Gravel rounding out the top five.

Larson rebounded from a 10th in Friday’s feature at Lake Ozark Speedway, continuing his streak of top-10 finishes in all five of his starts since the Outlaws’ return.

“We got our car a lot better from last night, so that was a plus,” said Larson, who finished second and first in back-to-back nights last week at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at Pevely, Missouri. “These guys are really tough. To be on the podium with Donny and Brad, they’ve won lots of big races and championships, it’s nice. I just didn’t do what I needed to do that last restart.”

Larson nearly had a flawless night Saturday, turning a 11.426-second lap to capture his second pole position this season and won the pole dash to start first in the feature.

Larson, who was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing from his NASCAR Cup Series ride last month for using a racial slur in an iRacing event, said last week that he plans to run several more NOS Energy Sprint Car Series races this year.

Larson remains indefinitely suspended by NASCAR but was approved to race by the Outlaws after completing sensitivity training.