Vettel closes out practice quickest once again

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Sebastian Vettel’s good form in practice for the Indian Grand Prix has continue on Saturday morning as the German driver closed out the final session over half a second clear of the rest of the field, meaning that he has finished fastest in every practice at the Buddh International Circuit this weekend.

Vettel, who looks set to be crowned world champion for a fourth time this weekend, recorded a best time of 1:25.332 to finish over five-tenths clear of teammate Mark Webber and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

Due to a thick smog that had formed around the circuit, the start of the final practice session was delayed as the medical helicopter was unable to take off. As a result, the session was reduced to just forty minutes, giving teams a dilemma as they had to force as much running as possible into this time.

Vettel was the first driver to move onto the soft tire mid-way through the session, setting one quick time to move to the head of the field before focusing on long runs in the final few minutes of FP3.

A number of drivers were caught out by aggressive wear on their tires with Pastor Maldonado and Lewis Hamilton both enjoying off-track excursions during the forty minute session. However, Vettel’s long run on the soft tire suggests that a long first stint may be possible.

Nico Hulkenberg continued his good form to finish the session in fourth place, but teammate Esteban Gutierrez was less fortunate, finishing down in twentieth place. Romain Grosjean finished in fifth place ahead of Felipe Massa and a resurgent Paul di Resta. Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen failed to pose much of a challenge to Red Bull’s dominance, finishing tenth and eleventh respectively.

Red Bull’s third consecutive one-two finish in practice suggests that it will take nothing short of a miracle for anyone but the defending world champions to win the race on Sunday, and Vettel will undoubtedly be planning his celebrations for his fourth world championship following this domination.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.