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Vettel fastest in Malaysia FP2 as Grosjean crash ends session early

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Sebastian Vettel gave Ferrari a boost amid its ailing Formula 1 title bid by topping second practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Friday at Sepang, leading home teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

After seeing Max Verstappen finish P1 for Red Bull in a wet opening practice on Friday morning in Malaysia, Vettel made the most of the first dry running of the weekend to stamp his authority on proceedings.

Vettel turned in a fastest lap time of 1:31.261, finishing six-tenths of a second clear of Raikkonen in the sister Ferrari SF70H as rival teams Red Bull and Mercedes both struggled to keep up.

Daniel Ricciardo finished third-fastest for Red Bull ahead of Verstappen, while Fernando Alonso was a surprise name to feature in the top five for McLaren.

Mercedes entered the race weekend as the heavy favorite given the fast-flowing nature of the Sepang circuit, only for championship leader Lewis Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas to finish sixth and seventh, over 1.4 seconds off the pace.

Both drivers suffered early off-track excursions as they struggled for grip, with Hamilton spinning his car through the gravel at Turn 8 and Bottas heading off at Turn 11, damaging the underside of his Mercedes car.

The stand-out moment of the session came when a loose drain cover caused significant damage to Romain Grosjean’s Haas car, sending the Frenchman flying off the track and into the barrier at high-speed.

Grosjean was able to walk away unharmed, albeit a little shaken by the incident, with the session immediately being red flagged.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting ventured out onto the track to inspect the kerb where the drain cover had been kicked up, before quickly taking the decision to not restart the session due to the damage caused.

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool