Vergne dissatisfied with one point in Malaysia

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Jean-Eric Vergne may have scored Scuderia Toro Rosso’s first point of the 2013 season in Malaysia, but the French driver believes that he could have fared better during the race.

“It’s good to finish in the points, but it’s a shame that a mistake in the pits cost us so much, as I could have done something better.

“Overall, I feel rather frusttrated, but I’ll take the point gladly.”

Vergne claimed P10 following Esteban Gutierrez’s late pit stop, and the Toro Rosso managed to stave off pressure from Valtteri Bottas in the final stages of the race. However, Vergne is looking to move on from the race and focus on the Chinese Grand Prix in three weeks’ time.

“We now have a short break before we go racing again and we must use that time to take a close look at how we performed and where we can do better, because there is certainly a lot of room for improvement.”

Vergne’s qualifying form has been questionable, failing to reach Q2 in Malaysia whilst his teammate Daniel Ricciardo managed to qualify an impressive 13th. However, Vergne got the better of his teammate in the race, and this was the one positive the Frenchman took out of the weekend.

“Once we got over our problems I had a good race pace and managed to make up a lot of places.”

Toro Rosso will be pleased with how they have started the season, especially given how McLaren and Williams have struggled. Vergne’s belief that the team can improve is proof that the Faenza-based team have the potential to better their haul of 26 points from 2012, and perhaps challenge their midfield rivals more intensely this season.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.