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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.

Indy Lights: Askew clinches 2019 title while VeeKay wins Laguna Seca race 1

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MONTEREY, Calif – Rinus VeeKay may have won the first race of the weekend’s Indy Lights doubleheader at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Saturday afternoon, but all all eyes post-race were all on the driver who finished the race in the fourth position.

That driver was Oliver Askew, who by simply starting the 30-lap event at the famed road course won the 2019 series title, along with the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series scholarship that guarantees a minimum of three races next season.

“It’s all sinking in,” Askew told NBC Sports following the race. “I’m really happy to be part of this team. They’re back to back champions now in Indy Lights, and I feel very fortunate to be driving in this car this year.

“This is what we worked for all year. I’m very happy to be in this position and I can’t wait to celebrate with my team.”

With the championship in Askew’s possession from the get-go, the best VeeKay could do for in race 1 was to win in dominant fashion. He went on to do just so.

After starting the race from the pole position, VeeKay led every lap from start to finish en route to his fifth victory of the season.

“We managed the car well and kept the car consistent throughout the whole race,” VeeKay said. “I got a great car from the team so I want to give a big shout out to them for giving me a winning car.”

Behind VeeKay, Portland race 2 winner Toby Sowery finished the race in the second position, while Robert Megennis finished third.

Live streaming coverage of race two of the Indy Lights doubleheader at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca begins tomorrow afternoon at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold.

Click here for full race results

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