Hamilton pleased with Friday form in Korea

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In the past few races, Lewis Hamilton has made light of the fact that Mercedes usually turn up for Friday practice at a grand prix lagging way behind their rivals only to turn it around on Saturday and put the car on pole position. However, after finishing quickest in both free practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s Korean Grand Prix, the Briton is feeling upbeat about his chances of claiming a second win in 2013.

“I was very happy with how the sessions went today and it’s the first time I can remember that second practice has really gone well for me,” Hamilton explained. “We haven’t changed anything but the day just went smoothly and all the processes with the team worked well.”

The Korean Grand Prix has come under fire of late due to its remote location (a four hour train journey from the nation’s capital, Seoul) and its lack of atmosphere, being one of the worst-attended grands prix on the calendar. However, Hamilton explained on Friday that he is a fan of the circuit itself as he goes in search of a first win in Korea.

“I love this track: it was clean from the start, it provides good racing on Sunday afternoon and it just gets harder and harder through the lap,” the 2008 world champion said. “You have the first sector which is good for overtaking, then you get more and more corners coming at you and those final two sectors are all about precision. You need a good downforce package, too, and the car is feeling good.

“We can still make improvements overnight, and I have some things I want to do with the set-up, but it’s been a good start for us.”

Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg also showed good pace in practice, finishing P4 and P3 in the two sessions on Friday.

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.