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Vettel under pressure as Kobayashi wins qualification race

NEWS STORY
18/11/2006

Another unlucky day of doom for BMW-Sauber-F1 sensation Sebastian Vettel at Macau's superb Circuito da Guia on Saturday, as his Qualification Race ended prematurely in retirement with a minor crash at Faraway Corner caused by brake problems.

Continued dramatic gesticulation born of frustration again beset the Carlin Motorsport garage, as the pressure began to show on the young German post-race. With it all to do in Sunday's Macau Grand Prix from the back of the grid, Vettel was understandably downcast, "I got a good start but up to the first corner I lost a lot of places. After that it was going ok, car-wise I think we are quite good. But we are losing quite a lot in a straight-line. It was very easy for others to overtake me, but I could still overtake others. Then after I lost a couple of places, I had a big fight into the last corner. A whole bunch of us were together, I was again not in a lucky position and everyone took me by Mandarin. I was one of the leaders in the group, and after that I was the last. Then I had a fight with Kimball and passed him; but I crashed then as we had a problem with the brake as well. I was braking at the normal point, but I had a long peddle. I tried to catch it, but with all the dirt and all the rubber and pick-up, it was just impossible and I crashed into the wall. We need some luck for tomorrow."

2006 Formula 3 Euroseries Champion Paul Di Resta took a well-deserved fourth in Saturday's Qualification Race; an important step towards his goal of the 2006 trifecta - the BP Ultimate Masters, the Formula 3 Euroseries and the Macau Grand Prix. After a good start, a resurgent Hirate temporarily halted Di Resta's progress at Lisboa Corner. The remainder of the race involved an intense battle between Di Resta, Kodai Tsukakoshi and 2006 SpykerMF1 test driver Adrian Sutil, with Di Resta taking Tsukakoshi at Lisboa Corner on Lap 4. Di Resta went on to catch the tailwinds of the scampering top 3 and caught the chequered flag just three seconds down from third-placed competitor Kohei Hirate. Di Resta was focused on the task at hand, "My race was quite good. I got stuck behind Kobayashi (above) at the start and he braked early for some reason at the first corner, ended up sixth. So I had to work my way through, and then it was a matter of finishing. Tomorrow we have a good car to win. If we get a good start, it should ok."

Adrian Sutil will start tomorrow's Macau Grand Prix from a promising sixth, after a fiery weekend of dramatic shunts was put behind him with a strong battle against Di Resta and Tsukakoshi in Saturday's Qualification Race. Ever optimistic, Sutil continued to enthuse about his performance around the Macanese circuit, "the race was pretty nice to drive. I had a big fight in the beginning with Paul Di Resta, and after that with Tsukakoshi. At the beginning I was fast, however I think the tyres went. I was always so close to Di Resta on the mountainside, so I really lost a lot of grip. Then I scrubbed the tyres even more, and I had no downforce. Suddenly, the tyres really went down. I lost traction, everything, all corner grip - so then I had to defend my back. I had to really watch my back to make sure no one passed, but at the end the position was great. I'm happy."

It was mixed drinks for the Japanese, as 2007 Trident-GP2 driver Kohei Hirate claimed an excellent third place in Saturday's Qualification Race, and will start from the second row for tomorrow's Macau Grand Prix. Earned against adversity, Hirate hit the barrier on the way to the grid at San Francisco Corner and had to pit for suspension checks. Getting onto the grid with minutes to spare, Hirate passed Tsukakoshi with a banzai move at Lisboa Corner on Lap 3 and went on to catch the super-quick leading pair of Kobayashi and Asmer to secure third place. Hirate was elated; "I had a crash at San Francisco Corner. It was my mistake. So, I had to come back to the grid. The mechanics went to work on my suspension, front and rear. It was 70-75% ok, but I had a skewed steering angle on the left side so I had to hold it on the straight and when I braked it was quite difficult to control. Having said that, the car was just so good, the lap times didn't drop off so much and in the end I was catching Asmer and Kobayashi. Things are looking good for tomorrow."

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