Vettel’s F1 title hopes fading fast after early Japan retirement (VIDEO)

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Sebastian Vettel’s Formula 1 championship hopes took another huge hit in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix after an engine issue forced him to retire from the race early.

Vettel led the drivers’ championship for Ferrari all the way up to the Italian Grand Prix at the end of September, when Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton moved three points ahead.

Vettel retired in Singapore and finished fourth in Malaysia, with Hamilton going P1 and P2 in those races to move 34 points clear heading into this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Ferrari was forced to change a spark plug on Vettel’s car on the grid after finding an issue, only for the German to report a lack of power soon after the race starting.

Vettel lost a place to Max Verstappen at the hairpin before slipping all the way back to sixth on the main straight, with yet more positions being lost after a brief safety car period.

Ferrari had no choice but to retire Vettel from the race, ending his hopes of cutting the gap to Hamilton, who currently leads the race for Mercedes.

Should Hamilton win at Suzuka, the Briton would be able to wrap up the F1 title in two weeks’ time at the United States Grand Prix if he won in Austin and Vettel finished sixth or lower.

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)