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.”

Alex Zanardi showing signs of interaction three months after crash

Alex Zanardi recovery
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
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MILAN — Italian racing driver turned Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi has started responding to treatment with signs of interaction, more than three months after he was seriously injured in a handbike crash.

Zanardi has spent most of that time in intensive care after crashing into an oncoming truck during a relay event near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19.

“For several days now. Alex Zanardi has undergone cognitive and motor rehabilitation sessions, with the administration of visual and acoustic stimuli, to which the patient responds with momentary and initial signs of interaction,” the San Raffaele hospital in Milan said in a statement Thursday.

The hospital said that is “significant progress” but added that his condition remains serious, and that it would be “absolutely premature” to make a long-term prognosis.

Zanardi, 53, suffered serious facial and cranial trauma in the crash and was put in a medically induced coma. Doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

He was operated on several times to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face and the Milan hospital added that he recently had undergone another surgery to reconstruct his skull and would have another one in the coming weeks.

Zanardi lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago. He won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.