Ricciardo not focused on beating Vergne, Raikkonen

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Daniel Ricciardo produced one of the stand out performances during today’s qualifying session for the British Grand Prix, finishing an excellent P6 for Toro Rosso and ahead of his two rivals for the Red Bull seat: Kimi Raikkonen (P9) and Jean-Eric Vergne (P13). However, the Australian driver has not prioritized this competition, instead remaining focused on attaining the best result possible.

When asked whether he was pleased to beat Raikkonen and Vergne, Ricciardo said: “I guess. I’m really happy with 6th but the way I saw it di Resta is a whisker in front, so I guess 5th would have been nicer.”

Ricciardo was delighted to have qualified so well, and merely considered it to be a coincidence that his strong showing came when Raikkonen and Vergne struggled.

“I just see it as a good result, 6th is great. I just happen to be in front of the other guys, so let’s try and stay in front tomorrow, that’s the next target.”

The Toro Rosso driver also rejected the notion that he was under additional pressure after Mark Webber’s announcement on Thursday, believing that he and Vergne have always been under scrutiny from the Red Bull management.

“I don’t think any changes now. We’ve always been watched. All our results, everything we do is always being monitored. Just because the seat now is there, I don’t think it changes their approach either.”

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”