Bianchi feels at home in Sepang

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F1’s newest superstar Jules Bianchi already feels at home at the Sepang International Circuit despite it being his first time racing at the track.

“It’s my first time racing here and I am happy with the way I have acclimatized to the track,” said Bianchi. “Now we have to see what the rest of the weekend holds. It could be frustrating, it could be exciting. We will see.”

Bianchi finished an impressive 18th in Free Practice 2, 1.2 seconds ahead of closest rivals Caterham, and also in front of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. The Frenchman is already turning heads in the F1 paddock, but he remains focused on improving his own pace ahead of qualifying on Saturday.

“I am pleased with my performance today though and we seem to be making progress on the set up we need here. This is just one of those races and circuits and it’s the same for every team.”

Practice wasn’t so straightforward for Bianchi’s teammate, Max Chilton. The British driver finished almost five seconds off Kimi Raikkonen in FP2 as he struggled in Sepang.

“Today hasn’t been the most straightforward of days but I know from experience that this circuit presents a variety of challenges, so not entirely unexpected,” revealed Chilton.

However, he believes that the conditions could aid him in what looks set to be a very close race on Sunday.

“The rain looks sets to play its part – that much looks clear. The rest is a little open right now so I think we will see an interesting qualifying and race.”

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.