Vettel leads incident-packed FP2 at Suzuka

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As he seeks his fourth Japanese Grand Prix win and potentially, a fourth straight Formula One World Championship, Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets once again in Friday’s second 90-minute free practice.

Vettel is the first driver this weekend to dip into the 1:33 range at the 3.6-mile Suzuka Circuit, a 1:33.852 with 55 minutes remaining and on Pirelli’s medium (alternate) tires.

Mark Webber was next in the second Red Bull Renault, in a new chassis (1:34.020), ahead of Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and the pair of Lotus Renaults, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Jenson Button (McLaren) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) completed the top 10.  All from Webber to Button were in the 1:34 range.

With the fast laps done early most of the rest of the session was spent in full race runs on both the hards and mediums; lap times generally were in the 1:39 to 1:40 range.

Raikkonen’s session ended early when with more than half an hour left, he lost control at the tail end of the Esses. His Lotus snapped at Dunlop and beached itself in the gravel. Fortuitously for the Finn, he was near the back of the paddock entrance, which made for a short walk back to the team garage.

While Raikkonen’s off was one part of the session, it wasn’t the biggest moment. Sergio Perez lost control at Spoon 17 minutes into the session, when his right side wheels got onto the painted surface on driver’s right at corner entry to the left-hander. His McLaren snapped and he smacked the tire barrier at an almighty rate. Perez was a bit dazed and had to take a few minutes to collect himself before getting out of the car under his own power.

Alonso had a spin at the entrance to Degner 1, with no damage, while Pastor Maldonado had an incident at Degner 2 when he ran wide and slid through the gravel, into the tire barrier. After his lost wheel in FP1, it was a lost day for the Williams driver.

Webber also had a moment when he came upon Paul di Resta’s slowing Force India, again through Degner, and allegedly cursed out the Force Indias over the radio.

Charles Pic resumed in the Caterham after missing FP1 and led teammate Giedo van der Garde and Marussia’s Max Chilton at the back of the field. The usual 22 cars were down one this session with Jules Bianchi out after crashing in FP1.

Takuma Sato’s likeness revealed on Borg-Warner Trophy (PHOTOS)

Photos; Walt Kuhn
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INDIANAPOLIS – Rather than the traditional December unveil, this year’s reveal newest likeness added to the Borg-Warner Trophy came Tuesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Takuma Sato got to see the result of the sculpting done by William Behrends and then turned from wax, clay and ceramic into sterling silver on Tuesday evening, as the winner of the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil saw his face revealed on the trophy.

Sato took the No. 26 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda for Andretti Autosport to the win in thrilling fashion this year over Helio Castroneves, denying the Brazilian his fourth Indianapolis 500 victory in the process. It atoned for his near-miss in 2012, driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, the team he’ll return to in 2018.

It’s been a whirlwind last week-plus for Sato, doing the podium interviews at the Japanese Grand Prix, reflecting on his Indianapolis 500 triumph, then sharing the victory spoils with another Japanese pilot in Yoshihide Muroya, who won the Red Bull Air Race World Championship at Indianapolis this weekend.

Photos of Sato’s face on the most unique trophy in sports are below. This post will be updated following tonight’s full unveil. (All photos: Walt Kuhn)