'Sebastien was just too fast today' – Vettel loses out to Loeb in Race Of Champions final


Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel came away from the Race Of Champions with the runner-up trophy after being beaten by nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb in a heavyweight final. Vettel and his Team Germany team mate Mick Schumacher took on F1 Esports stars Jarno Opmeer and Lucas Blakeley in the preceding Nations Cup final.

Twenty drivers from across various world championships landed in the Swedish resort of Pite Havsbad to compete in the 2022 Race Of Champions with four of them – David Coulthard, Mika Hakkinen, Schumacher and Vettel – representing Formula 1. This year's event kicked off with the Nations Cup on February 5, and there was a shock in store...


Stars from F1, rally, W Series, NASCAR and IndyCar were among the 2022 ROC field

Nations Cup

Opmeer and Blakeley booked their place in the Nations Cup by making it to the final of the ROC's Esports tournament (the former winning out). The pair would comprise Team eROC All Stars and enjoy an opening bout against Team Germany on Saturday.

Cue a massive coup: Blakeley, Aston Martin's 2021 Esports racer, beat Aston Martin's F1 driver Vettel in a one-on-one race. That proved to be the Esport racers' consolation prize, however, as Vettel and Schumacher won the round 3-1 and progressed to the quarter finals.

Vettel couldn't add to his seven Nations Cup wins, as Team Germany were then narrowly knocked out by Team USA – who lost the final to Team Norway's father-son duo, Petter and Oliver Solberg.

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Champion of Champions

The individual Race Of Champions tournament took place on Sunday, Vettel booking his place in the final by seeing off W Series' Emma Kimilainen, Team USA and IndyCar racer Colton Herta, and then nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen.

However, the challenge of WRC legend Loeb proved just too much for the four-time F1 champion and Vettel had to settle for the runner-up prize instead, Loeb adding a record-equalling fourth ROC win to his burgeoning trophy case.

"Sebastien was just too fast today," conceded Vettel. "The conditions were tricky out there and it was getting more and more slippery, which I guess is normal for snow and ice! I don’t have that much experience so it was a struggle to adapt; in my day job getting sideways is what we try to avoid.

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"But I felt I was improving every time I drove. That’s a good sign, but also a sign that I still have a lot to learn. Yesterday was a short day because I let Team Germany down and we went out very quickly, but today I could get more into the groove. I knew the final was a big stretch and I maybe pushed too hard, but I knew I had to go for it to be close to Seb. I made mistakes here and there, so in these conditions I have a bit of catching up to do…"

Vettel leaves Sweden to gear up for a second F1 season with Aston Martin, who launch their AMR22 machine on February 10 ahead of a 23-race campaign.



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