Tag Archives: Vettel

Pit Stop – F1 changes – By Lewis Brearley

Almost all Formula One fans have ideas about how the sport should be improved. From less prescriptive technical regulations to more prescriptive technical regulations, more durable tyres, less durable tyres, bringing back refuelling, fewer teams, more teams, a budget cap, stopping racing on the newer and less romantic Tilke-designed circuits, there’s myriad ideas, some more worthy than others.

This week, the newly established “Strategy Working Group,” which comprises six team principals and six representatives from both the FOM and the FIA, had their first meeting and agreed on some changes which they believe will improve Formula One.

Firstly they decided to bring in, with immediate effect, permanent numbers for all the drivers. Sebastian Vettel will get the first choice, including the option to use the #1 earned by winning the drivers’ championship, with the others getting their choice in championship order.

This is a pure marketing tool and has been very well received among the fans and drivers alike. Formula One bosses will be hoping that sometime in the future they will be able to match the image and income of Valentino Rossi’s iconic #46 in MotoGP.

However, it’s unclear how the system will be implemented. If a driver retires only to return a couple of years later such as Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher, will their number be kept “on ice” for a couple of years or will they have to pick a new one?

Also, how will the numbers be visible? At the moment the numbers on the cars are too small to even be seen in slow motion close ups, and the teams are unwilling to increase this size for fear of reducing space for paying sponsors.

A number which is therefore only really visible on the driver’s caps and t-shirts before and after races is hardly going to have the same impact as the clear numbers used in MotoGP.

Secondly, a tentative plan to have a workable budget cap for 2015 was announced. Due to Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes’ current blasé and selfish attitudes to the ridiculous current financial situation in Formula One, it’s very unclear how this system will be properly enforced.

It’s certainly very unlikely to be set as low as the $40 million cap pushed by Max Mosley in 2009. The lack of information in the press release itself shows just how early into negotiations this decision is.

A more immediate change to the rules, and the one which has gained the most headlines, is the decision to award double points in next season’s final race.

This means the winner of next year’s Abu Dhabi grand prix, a race seen as one of the least challenging on the calendar, will receive 50 points.

As of now, Vettel is the only man to share his opinion on the issue, calling the whole idea “absurd and unfair,” and he is completely right. Never in the history of Formula One has one race been worth more than others.

This is a purely business-driven move, just like the permanent numbers, as it almost guarantees a final race championship decider, yet this is different as it affects the racing itself.

In football, the goalposts aren’t widened in stoppage time and in a 19-race championship, one race should not outweigh any of the others.

It’s also a sign of Formula One taking a worrying direction towards gimmickry and entertainment and away from sport. What’s to stop a circuit organiser deciding to pay double the hosting fees to get their race billed as a “50 points super-race?” Or giving points for overtaking in the final few laps?

This sort of gimmickry is not what Formula One needs to be entertaining and it’s concerning that the very owners of the sport think it is. They need to have more confidence in their product and remember that when Mika Hakkinen overtook Schumacher at Spa in 2000, or when Raikkonen overtook Giancarlo Fisichella on the last lap of the 2005 Japanese grand prix, there were no gimmicks, no double points and no overtaking aids.

Pure racing, rivalries and personalities is what makes Formula One the second most watched sport in the world. There’s no need to dilute that.

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Pit Stop – Season Finale – By Lewis Brearley

This weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix will be a historic affair even if Sebastian Vettel doesn’t win and equal both Michael Schumacher’s season win record of 13 and the nine race long consecutive win streak set by Alberto Ascari.

Not only is it the final race of 2013, it is also the final race with the current aerodynamic regulations, the last hurrah for the glorious V8 engines Formula One has used since 2006, Mark Webber’s final grand prix before he moves to the World Endurance Championship and Felipe Massa’s last race in his storied time at Ferrari.

A Webber win with Felipe Massa on the podium would therefore be a perfect way for the 2013 season to sign off. The likelihood of such is low however with Vettel having such a strong advantage over Webber and Ferrari being far off the pace set by both Red Bull, Lotus and Mercedes.

No driver has ever won their retirement grand prix and Webber has probably the best chance anyone has ever had to do so and the Aussie is always at his best at the classic racetracks like Interlagos. So for a full Webber appraisal it would be wise to wait until after his 217th grand prix.

While watching this weekend’s Formula One, take a moment to admire the machinery. The current cars with their exhaust blown diffuser technology mastered so brilliantly by Adrian Newey and his Red Bull team have been evolving ever since the regulations were altered in 2009.

The five seasons with the rules have been dominated by Red Bull and their lead driver, Sebastian Vettel who has managed to harness the technology to levels beyond any if his rivals. It has brought him four straight championships and 37 of his 38 career wins – one being before the 2009 changes.

The era of the V8 is longer. The rasping roar of these engines has provided the background noise for eight seasons and will be given a fond farewell at the atmospheric racetrack in the middle of Sao Paulo.

Fernando Alonso took the first win in the V8 era with a Renault engine and with Red Bull so strong and Lotus second best, Renault is very likely to bookend the era with another win.

With this history in mind, the race between the two Red Bulls and the battle for second in the constructors’ championship could be gripping.

While Lotus have the best race car at the moment, Mercedes have a 33 point advantage over the Enstone team. With Ferrari dead in the middle and on a weak run of form, Lotus could nick third from the mighty Scuderia, which for a team having financial difficulties would be a huge boost.

Tune in this weekend, it won’t be “just another Vettel win.”

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Pit Stop – F1 Review – By Lewis Brearley

Now that the 2012 Formula One season has concluded it’s time to reflect and analyse the successes and failures of the drivers and their respective teams.

In this weeks part of the review, it’s the turn of the championship winning team of Red Bull and their drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

It was back down to earth for 2011 championship winners Red Bull at the start of the 2012 season.

After winning 12 out of the previous season’s 19 races and clinching 18 of the pole positions the team struggled initially for pace in the first few flyaway races.

This wasn’t accidental. The FIA enforced stricter regulations surrounding the exhaust blowing technology which the team’s past two championship winning cars were designed around. The exhaust was now in a set position at a set angle and Adrian Newey and his technical department had to set about trying to get the effect back.

As we all know, he eventually did figure it out but for the first half of the season the Red Bull RB8 was unbalanced and only showed flashes of 2011-esque pace.

One such occasion was the European GP where Vettel was truly on song, building up a mega 25 second lead, before having it cruelly snatched by Red Bull’s haunting Achilles heel, the alternator failure.

This loss of exhaust blowing technology and the loss of rear stability that ensued had a negative effect on Sebastian Vettel’s driving. In 2011 he had mastered the counter-intuitive art of applying more throttle to correct oversteer and thereby fully embracing the exhaust blowing effects; and now this was taken away so was his advantage over Mark Webber and Vettel struggled with adapting his driving.

Behind the scenes however Vettel was pushing and working with Newey to get the exhaust blowing effects working properly again, and with the sidepod and exhaust updates Red Bull brought to the Singapore GP and the further updates at the Japanese GP the RB8 suddenly became unstoppable in Vettel’s hands.

Four successive wins in Asia flipped the unpredictable and wide-open nature of the championship into a game of wait-and-hope for the rest of the grid, so powerless they were to take the fight to Vettel on pure pace.

It was also in these races that Vettel put any doubts about whether Webber had his match firmly to bed.

Webber had all the bad luck, including an alternator failure at Austin and being punted innocently out by Romain Grosjean at Suzuka, but it was soon clear that Vettel was the team’s worthy number one and in the superior equipment he was driving was storming straight to his third championship, unforeseen circumstances and faulty alternators notwithstanding.

However in the final pair of races Vettel did get his hand of bad luck, firstly being slowed by a backmarker which cost him the GP victory at Austin and then the shocking shunt at Turn 4 at Interlagos which nearly totalled his car.

Yet despite these, he kept his head – remarkably strong at the age of 25 – and managed to cross the line champion, again.

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Pit Stop – Interlagos Delights- By Lewis Brearley

Sports events are often hyped up and promoted as the greatest thing that’s happening in the world and often they disappoint. This weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix was one of those rare events that lived up to the hype however, the Interlagos circuit once again providing a gripping title finale.

Over seven million people tuned into an amazingly engaging race packed with constantly changing incidents, overtaking and mixed weather conditions, enhanced by the championship prize which swung back and forth between the two title protagonists throughout before Sebastian Vettel crossed the finishing line to clinch his historic third championship.

A mist of drizzle descended as the grid lined up on the pit straight and everybody was on dries. A slippy, treacherous opening lap was a given.

The championship was supposed to be Vettel’s to lose, with Alonso a rank outsider in need of a near-miracle to snatch the title away, his hopes hinging on a Red Bull alternator failure or rain induced crash.

This near-miracle actually happened on the first lap. Vettel got a poor start and was squeezed at the first corner by his team mate, Mark Webber. He was then left in the swarming midfield where he cut across Bruno Senna’s unsighted Williams, knocking him into a spin.

Taking a further knock from Senna, a hefty one, his car was lifted into the air. As Vettel’s car clattered back down to the asphalt facing in the direction of the run off area it seemed as though Alonso’s dreams had come true, and all he had to do was keep it on the black stuff and finish in the top three.

Yet a Brazilian grand prix is never that simple. The Spanish matador was caught out on lap five by the greasy surface at turn one and was forced to take the run-off, which allowed Nico Hulkenberg – thriving in these conditions – through to third behind the two McLarens.

Meanwhile Vettel was using his skills and panache to storm up the order. He was 13th by lap five and it suddenly appeared as though Ferrari would be wise to pause their early celebrations.

But back on the Red Bull pit wall Adrian Newey was concerned. He was analysing a snapshot of the sidepod and floor of Vettel’s car which showed the severity of the damage inflicted in Vettel’s shunt. The floor was cracked and even more worryingly for the design guru the exhaust itself was split.

This is where the irony of the situation became apparent. Ferrari had been praying for rain as their only hope of mixing up the race and dampening Red Bull’s pace advantage over the Scuderia. However the rain was now having the opposite effect in saving Vettel, the lower speeds enforced by the damp track meaning less stress for that damaged exhaust. The chances of him reaching the end increased but it was still not certain and challenges lay in wait: the rain was intensifying and the Red Bull’s radio had broken, meaning the team could no longer hear their driver.

On lap 55 this problem caused a heap of worry. As Vettel pitted for full wets his team were unprepared and no tyres were ready. An agonising 11 second pit stop ensued, dropping the German to tenth.

Vettel now needed to overtake to take the title. That he did, passing a spinning Kamui Kobayashi then receiving the huge honour of being let-through by the usually indomitable Michael Schumacher for sixth place, which with Alonso second, was good enough for the title.

When an ecstatic Vettel jumped out of his glorious Red Bull RB8 in parc ferme, he embraced his fellow multiple world champion countryman, Schumacher. The torch was passed and a classic season had reached its deserving epic conclusion.


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Vettel is World Champion

In an absolutely brilliant season finale at Interlagos, Sebastian Vettel took the F1 world championship for 2012.

As a result, he becomes the youngest ever three time world champion, and the first since Michael Schumacher to win three on the trot.

In a season that saw seven different drivers win the opening seven grand prix, it was Vettel who showed that winning consecutive races towards the end of the season was the key difference.

A chaotic start saw Felipe Massa fly up to second and Vettel drop down the field to 22nd after being hit at the first corner.

As the rain continued to get heavier, cars were swapping and changing positions all over the field, as Vettel slowly began to work his way through the pack.

Lewis Hamilton was out in front with team mate Jenson Button, in his final race for the Mclaren outfit, before deciding to come in for the intermediate tyres.

Button and Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg stayed out and they stretched their lead to 55 seconds after the rest of the field came in twice to swap tyres.

In this series of events, Vettel got himself up to fifth place, right behind championship rival Fernando Alonso.

However, due to car parts on the track, the safety car was called and the field bunched up again.
At the restart Vettel was attacked by his team mate Mark Webber and Kamui Kobayashi.

At the halfway stage, the battle of the front was between Hulkenberg and Hamilton, who took Button easily, and as the rain continued, the race became stretched out.

Hamilton kept producing fastest laps but could not get close enough to the Force India to attack.

Back in the pack, there was great racing from two former world champions, Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen, who were attacking each other superbly. It was Schumacher’s last race in F1 as he announces his second retirement from the sport.

Lap 48 saw Hulkenberg spin after getting on the white lines, which saw Hamilton move back up to the lead. The switch saw a frantic few minutes as the teams debated whether to come into the pits or not as the rain increased on the circuit.

After Vettel came in for his scheduled final stop, the rain came down harder. It caused Hamilton to slow down and as Hulkenberg tried to go up the inside, he could not slow down his car and took out the Mclaren driver.

Vettel came back into the pits, to put on intermediates, as Alonso stayed out, he almost lost it in the wall after turn three.

As the rain got ever harder, everyone else came in and Hulkenberg was given a drive through penalty.

All this incident moved Alonso up to third, behind his teammate and crowd favourite Brazilian Felipe Massa.

With less than ten laps to go, conditions became atrocious and as Alonso started to catch and pass Massa, Schumacher pulled over and to let Vettel threw and up to sixth.

A nasty accident to Paul Di Resta saw the safety car come out with two laps to go meaning that Vettel became champion.

Jenson Button, who benefitted from the crash to Hamilton, finished a deserved first, negotiating the rain the best out of the field,

Alonso came home in second and Massa third, but it was not enough for the Spaniard as Vettel came home in sixth.

It was another great year for F1, in the longest ever season for the sport, and Red Bull driver Vettel is a deserved three time world champion.

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Pit Stop – F1 Season Reaches Climax – By Lewis Brearley

The Formula 1 season climaxes this weekend at Interlagos, the cauldron in Sao Paulo, with a fiery atmosphere and wild fans famed for its tendency of serving up unpredictable, sometimes even chaotic races.

The name Interlagos evokes many great moments in F1 fans’ minds: Ayrton Senna collapsing after claiming victory with his car stuck in 6th gear in 1993,  Michael Schumacher charging through the field after suffering a puncture in his final race for Ferrari in 2006 and Lewis Hamilton passing Timo Glock for the world championship at the final corner on the final lap to snatch the title from Felipe Massa.

The fiery and passionate atmosphere provided by the F1-mad Sao Paulo locals is often cranked up even further when the circuit is host to a championship deciding race such as this Sunday’s, when either Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel will be crowned as a 3-time World Champion, becoming just the ninth and youngest man to win at least three titles.

Sebastian Vettel goes into the weekend as the heavy favourite equipped with his superior Red Bull and a 13 point championship lead. Vettel only needs to finish fourth if Alonso wins in order to secure the championship, just seventh if Alonso takes second place, and if Alonso doesn’t get on the podium Vettel is champion even if he retires.

In Vettel’s favour the unpredictable reputation of the track is contradicted by the recent record book. A Red Bull has won there for the past three years with Sebastian Vettel leading a Red Bull one-two for the past two years.

But, Alonso’s task isn’t impossible. The chance of rain during Sunday is 40% which would definitely mix things up and the Red Bull has lately appeared very shaky reliability wise. Mark Webber –Vettel’s team-mate – suffered an alternator failure at last weekend’s US grand prix which was the third such failure in a Red Bull this season.

Gate-crashing this duel is McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, on scintillating form. In Abu Dhabi he was heading for a dominant win until his McLaren let him down and in Austin last weekend he chased Vettel superbly and then passed him after taking full advantage of an opportunity supplied by an errant backmarker.

In his final race for McLaren at the track where he took his lone championship, it will be an emotional weekend for the Briton before he embarks on the daunting challenge of winning in a Mercedes. Hamilton is driving as well as he ever has done and the depths of his rocky 2011 season seem well and truly behind him.

This weekend also marks Michael Schumacher’s second retirement. With his dire Mercedes he’s unlikely to go out on a high like he did with his charge through the field in his first retirement race. Instead the seven times champion is likely to be in a struggle to get a point.

It looks like being an historic season finale worthy of this historic F1 season.

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Weekend Roundup

This weekend saw some epic sporting moments, with tales of woe, success and heartache twinned with controversy and foul play.

In the Premier League, their were shocks a plenty as former assistant at Chelsea, Steve Clarke, took on his former employers and beat them 2-1. it was a victory that took his West Brom side up to fourth, one point behind the European Champions.

Elsewhere, Norwich City kept their third clean sheet in four to take victory at home against Manchester United. It was the first time since the 2-0 victory back in 2005, that the Canaries had defeated the Red Devils.

The North London derby finished 5-2 to Arsenal once more after former Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor scored and was then sent off for a reckless tackle on Santi Carzola.

Man City took advantage of the other big boys losing and returned to the top of the table after beating Aston Villa 5-0. The scoreline did not tell the story as Joe Hart made some brilliant saves and two penalties cost the midlands side.

The other scores in the Premier League were: Liverpool 3-0 Wigan, Newcastle 1-2 Swansea, QPR 1-3 Southampton, Reading 2-1 Everton.

In rugby union, it was a poor weekend for the home nations as Wales lost heavily to Samoa, England could not add to their victory against Fiji previously and went down to a below strength Australia outfit and Scotland lost an entertaining battle to the South Africans.

Ireland did put some credibility on the weekend for the home sides, winning 53-0 against Fiji, as their coach Declan Kidney tried out some of his younger players.

Alistair Cook continued his great batting form as England tried to salvage anything from the first test. The England captain remains at the crease on 168 not out and in the process became the first England captain to score three test 100’s in their first three games as skipper.

He is joined at the crease by Matt Prior who himself has been great with the bat too. The final day is tomorrow and England currently lead by 10 runs after been forced to take the follow on by India.

In Boxing, Carl Froch defeated Yusaf Mack with a third round count as he continued to develop into one of the best boxers of all time.

The fight in Nottingham started well for Froch, who burst out in the first two rounds and then professionally took out his opponent in the third.

After the fight, Froch admitted he now wants to have a rematch with either Mikkel Kessler or Andre Ward.

Elsewhere, Sebastian Vettel took pole for tonight’s Austin Grand Prix, as he looks to wrap up a third straight drivers tittle. Fernando Alonso will start eighth on the grid after a poor qualifying display.

Luke Donald claimed another title this morning as he won Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan as as a result moves ahead of Tiger Woods and into second in the world rankings.

Still in golf and Miguel Angel Jimenez became the oldest winner of a European Tour event, aged 48 and 318 days, as he took victory in the Hong Kong open.

The World Track cycling is currently going on as Britain try to replace Victoria Pendleton after she retired from the sport. Jess Varnish and Becky James are however doing a good job as they took silver and bronze respectively.

You can catch more sports action in the week in our regular features such as Game On, Puck Plays and It’snowheaven or catch up with anything else by checking out the archives.

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Vettel takes Pole

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel took one step closer to his third consecutive title today as he grabbed pole position for the first ever Austin Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver whizzed around the slippy track to beat McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton by 0.109 seconds, as he claimed yet another pole, his sixth of the season.

His championship challenger Fernando Alonso did not have a good day however and he will line up on the grid in a lowly ninth position.

The Ferrari man faces an uphill battle to get the points he needs to keep the championship alive into the final race in Brazil.

Vettel will be crowned champion this weekend if he scores 15 more points than Alonso.

The Red Bull team will also be crowned constructors champions for the third time running if they can claim four points from the weekend.

It was not a good day for Hamilton’s current and future teammates either, as both Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg were eliminated in Q2, failing to get to grips with the surface in Texas.

Elsewhere on the grid, the Lotus boys of Roman Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen will line up in fourth and fifth and seven time world champion Michael Schumacher will start in sixth.

The Mercedes driver has looked good all weekend as he heads towards his second retirement from the sport.

You can catch the race tomorrow at 19.00 (GMT)

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Pit Stop – F1 in Texas – By Lewis Brearley

Formula 1 arrives in Texas for the first time this weekend and excitement about the championship duel is running high.

Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel will do battle around the brand new and high-spec Circuit of the Americas, just outside Austin, Texas.

Designed to be a fusion of some of the worlds most fabled sections of racetrack – like a sort of Franken-track; ‘COTA’ as it has been coined contains a copy of the Osterreichring steep and blind turn 1, Silverstone Maggott’s-Beckett’s complex, Hockenheim stadium section and Istanbul’s Turn 8.

As for the grand prix, qualifying will be vital. Red Bull relies on a high downforce/low top speed set-up which optimises the highly effective downforce qualities of the car. This approach means that Vettel must deliver in qualifying and set pole position.

The risk with this strategy is that if Vettel doesn’t deliver in qualifying and ends up in the pack, he will find it very difficult to overtake cars.

On the other hand, Ferrari are much stronger in terms of race pace than qualifying pace and run a lower downforce/higher top speed set-up than the Red Bulls. This means Alonso is likely to have to overtake a couple of cars in order to win the race.

This style of tactics requires quick thinking and precision from the driver and fortunately for Ferrari and Spanish F1 fans this is exactly what Alonso thrives at.

Whether Alonso can get a win or a podium and remain in the championship battle therefore heavily relies on whether the new Circuit of the Americas delivers on its potential and provides overtaking opportunities.

The ingredients are there, the long straight followed by a tight corner should provide plenty of overtakes, however as India and Bahrain show, tracks that look good on paper don’t always deliver the expected thrills.

Despite this, it is still looking like an uphill challenge for Alonso to go to the final race in Brazil closer in points to Vettel than he is now. The speed of the Red Bull since Suzuka has been awesome and Ferrari have struggled all year with the effectiveness of their upgrades and it isn’t realistic for that to change until next season.

Alonso does have one advantage on Vettel however – a compliant team-mate in Felipe Massa. If Massa ends up ahead of Alonso he will let him pass, which may provide a few vital points.

However, Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber, said before the Indian grand prix: “If I’m in the lead this weekend then I’m not pulling over for anyone. That’s it.” Whether this attitude has changed since Webber can now no longer win the championship remains to be seen but his relationship with Vettel isn’t exactly harmonious.

The other unknown factor of this weekend’s grand prix is how strong McLaren will be. If Lewis Hamilton is on Abu Dhabi form then he must go down as favourite for the victory, but McLaren’s speed has been very inconsistent all season.

Alonso will be hoping for the former to take points off Vettel and make his task a tad easier for the season finale in Brazil.

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Weekend Preview

This weekend sees some of the biggest sports action back on the TV.

The Premier League serves up a London derby at midday on Saturday between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at The Emirates.

In the other big games, Manchester United take on Norwich City, Champions Manchester City will look to get three points at home to Aston Villa and Chelsea travel to Steve Clarke’s West Brom.

In Rugby Union, England face Australia off the back of a brilliant win against Fiji last weekend. Chris Ashton has been recalled to the side in the only change from last weekend.

The other home nations are all in action too as Wales face Samoa tonight, and then Scotland entertain South Africa and Ireland take on Fiji on Saturday.

Rugby League has its season finished but with the fixtures out on Monday and the teasers already out, fans will be eagerly anticipating them on Monday morning.

The first test between India and England continues this weekend with England hoping to get back into the game after a great opening two days for India.

The penultimate race of the F1 season takes us to Austin Texas, for the first American race in five years. The showdown between Fernando Alonso and current leader Sebastian Vettel continues, and Vettel could well take the title this weekend, but there are other racers looking to take the win in America.

The Grand Slam of Darts continues at Wolverhampton Civic Hall too with the business end to the final on all weekend. Phil Taylor went out last night to Michael Van Gerwen so the race is open for the crown.

The weekend promises to be another showcase for sport and with Christmas around the corner, the sport will only get better.

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