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Sebastian Vettel expected to be Lewis Hamilton’s main 2019 foe

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When asked who would likely be his primary challenger in 2019, Lewis Hamilton told Formula1.com “I would imagine it’s going to be Sebastian (Vettel). And Valtteri (Bottas) alongside me.

There is a good reason for that assessment. Hamilton and Vettel spent the entire season either first or second in the standings. Vettel held the top spot six of the first 10 weeks; Hamilton led the series the other four weeks and the average difference between first and second was 9.2 points.

Then came Germany.

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Vettel crashed on Lap 51 while leading – handing the top spot over to Bottas for one lap before Hamilton took command for the final 15 circuits. The 25 points lost dropped Vettel from top rung of the championship by eight points to the second rung by 17. He would never recover and after the Italian Grand Prix, race 14 of 21, Vettel continuously slipped further behind Hamilton.

The only race after Italy in which Vettell finished ahead of Hamilton was in Mexico and by then, the championship was decided. Vettel finished second in the Mexican GP; Hamilton was only six points back in fourth.

If not Vettel, Hamilton is keeping his eye on Max Verstappen.

“They’ve got a great car,” Hamilton said. “They’ve been very strong at the end of the year, they’ve got a new engine next year. Will it be able to compete with ours? I hope so, because that would be epic if Red Bull could really start to mingle with us a bit more, weekend in, weekend out.

“They’ve got to obviously improve on their reliability, which has been a big downfall for them this year. So there’s lots of areas [to work on], but I really wish them all the best – and we are down for the competition that’s for sure.”

As Vettel was slipping behind, Verstappen was catching up. He outscored the Ferrari driver in the second half of the season and came within one point of securing third in the driver’s championship behind Kimi Raikkonen.

Of course, overtaking Mercedes is going to be a challenge for everyone. They have won the last five championships – four for Hamilton and one for Nico Rosberg. Before that, Red Bull Racing and Renault were on a four-year winning streak with Vettel behind the wheel.

Points Standings by the Week

Week Grand Prix Leader Second Third
1 Australian Vettel Hamilton (-7) Raikkonen (-10)
2 Bahrain Vettel Hamilton (-17) Bottas (-28)
3 Chinese Vettel Hamilton (-9) Bottas (-14)
4 Azerbaijan Hamilton Vettel (-4) Raikkonen (-22)
5 Spanish Hamilton Vettel (-17) Bottas (-37)
6 Monaco Hamilton Vettel (-14) Ricciardo (-38)
7 Canadian Vettel Hamilton (-1) Bottas (-35)
8 French Hamilton Vettel (-14) Ricciardo (-49)
9 Austrian Vettel Hamilton (-1) Raikkonen (-45)
10 British Vettel Hamilton (-8) Raikkonen (-55)
11 German Hamilton Vettel (-17) Raikkonen (-57)
12 Hungarian Hamilton Vettel (-24) Raikkonen (-57)
13 Belgian Hamilton Vettel (-17) Raikkonen (-85)
14 Italian Hamilton Vettel (-30) Raikkonen (-92)
15 Singapore Hamilton Vettel (-40) Raikkonen (-107)
16 Russian Hamilton Vettel (-50) Bottas (-117)
17 Japanese Hamilton Vettel (-67) Bottas (-124)
18 United States Hamilton Vettel (-70) Raikkonen (-125)
19 Mexican Hamilton Vettel (-64) Raikkonen (-122)
20 Brazilian Hamilton Vettel (-81) Raikkonen (-132)
21 Abu Dhabi Hamilton Vettel (-88) Raikkonen (-157)

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.