Webber quickest in shortened final practice

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Mark Webber has finished quickest in the third and final practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix, which was shortened to just thirty minutes.

The session was delayed by thirty minutes after an accident during one of the support races caused a great deal of damage to one of the barriers. Once the repair work had been completed, race control confirmed that the session would not run for its full sixty minutes in order to preserve the mandatory two-hour break between final practice and qualifying.

When the running did get underway, the drivers did not rush out as a rain shower in the morning meant that the track was still damp, with the teams needing to save their wet tires in case of showers during qualifying or the race. However, it was Esteban Gutierrez who set the early pace for Sauber ahead of Felipe Massa at the top.

In the final five minutes of the session though, the track dried out and allowed the drivers to go out on super-soft tires for the first time. It quickly became a case of seeing the chequered flag first, with Felipe Massa setting an early benchmark, yet he ended up P8. Paul di Resta, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton all had a second or two at the top before Webber eventually pulled over 1.2 seconds clear of his teammate to finish fastest. Adrian Sutil also set a late time to finish an excellent second for Force India during their 100th grand prix weekend. Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel followed Sutil, with Monaco winner Nico Rosberg finishing in 6th. You can find the complete classification here.

You can watch qualifying from 1pm ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

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.