Sebastian Vettel closes out Silverstone test on top

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Sebastian Vettel has continued his devastating form that has persisted throughout the past three years by finishing the final day of the young driver test at Silverstone quickest.

The Red Bull driver also set the fastest time across the three days despite only running this afternoon, taking over from youngster Carlos Sainz Jr. who had completed the morning session for the defending world champions.

Trailing behind Vettel’s timesheet-topping time of 1:32.894 were Adrian Sutil and Nicolas Prost, both of whom finished just over three-tenths off the German driver. Sutil had led during the lunch break, but he eventually handed the VJM06 to James Calado, with the Briton completing just five laps and finishing 15th.

Sainz continued his good form to finish P4 ahead of the Ferrari duo of Davide Rigon and Felipe Massa, with the Brazilian driver finishing just 0.023 seconds ahead of Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne.

McLaren’s Gary Paffett rallied to finish 8th despite losing most of his early running due to an engine failure, but the team managed to fix up his MP4-28 for the afternoon session as they tested parts for the 2014 car.

Today also marked a significant day for women in motorsport as Susie Wolff completed 89 laps for Williams, finishing a respectable 9th as she looks to secure a superlicense in the near future. The Scottish driver was closely followed by Giedo van der Garde for Caterham.

Russian youngster Daniil Kyvat had a mixed day as he got behind the wheel of an F1 car for the first time, losing time in the afternoon following a mistake that saw him go off, with Rodolfo Gonzalez also suffering a similar fate for Marussia. It didn’t get much better for the Anglo-Russian team as Jules Bianchi’s afternoon came to an early end due to a car failure.

Kimiya Sato (no relation to IndyCar star Takuma) also enjoyed his first taste of F1 running for Sauber, finishing in P13 behind Caterham’s Charles Pic.

Young Drivers’ Test, Silverstone Circuit: Day three result

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:32.894 79 laps
2 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:33.242 99 laps
3 Nicolas Prost Lotus 1:33.256 83 laps
4 Carlos Sainz Jr Red Bull 1:33.546 35 laps
5 Davide Rigon Ferrari 1:33.592 19 laps
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:33.624 69 laps
7 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:33.647 42 laps
8 Gary Paffett McLaren 1:34.294 77 laps
9 Susie Wolff Williams 1:35.093 89 laps
10 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:35.155 85 laps
11 Daniil Kyvat Toro Rosso 1:35.281 22 laps
12 Charles Pic Caterham 1:35.576 60 laps
13 Kimiya Sato Sauber 1:35.642 67 laps
14 Rodolfo Gonzalez Marussia 1:36.339 24 laps
15 James Calado Force India 1:36.451 5 laps
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:36.744 39 laps

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
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Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”