Vettel still looking for improvements in Austin

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Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel may have finished fastest in the second free practice session for this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, but he still believes that there is room for improvement heading into qualifying on Saturday.

Vettel failed to bother the front-runners in FP1 as he opted to run with heavy fuel and focus on his long runs, and subsequently finished down in eighteenth place. However, he and Red Bull teammate Mark Webber were in a class of their own during the second session, easily finishing P1 and P2. Nevertheless, Vettel is still looking for more.

“The circuit was quite slippery today; I was happy with the car, but you always know you can improve here and there,” Vettel said after practice. “I think we got through the programme we were able to test some things, some were good and some not so good, but we will see.”

Vettel has highlighted four teams as being in contention, although his seven race winning streak heading into this weekend suggests that it will take a retirement or incident during the race to deny the German driver.

“Ferrari looked quick this morning and McLaren could be a surprise here, and Lotus and Mercedes will be strong as normal. The track will improve now unless it rains, the car worked well on the tires, so we’ll see what we can do on Sunday.”

The United States Grand Prix is one of just two races on the current calendar that Vettel is yet to win, with the other being the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Alex Zanardi showing signs of interaction three months after crash

Alex Zanardi recovery
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
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MILAN — Italian racing driver turned Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi has started responding to treatment with signs of interaction, more than three months after he was seriously injured in a handbike crash.

Zanardi has spent most of that time in intensive care after crashing into an oncoming truck during a relay event near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19.

“For several days now. Alex Zanardi has undergone cognitive and motor rehabilitation sessions, with the administration of visual and acoustic stimuli, to which the patient responds with momentary and initial signs of interaction,” the San Raffaele hospital in Milan said in a statement Thursday.

The hospital said that is “significant progress” but added that his condition remains serious, and that it would be “absolutely premature” to make a long-term prognosis.

Zanardi, 53, suffered serious facial and cranial trauma in the crash and was put in a medically induced coma. Doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

He was operated on several times to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face and the Milan hospital added that he recently had undergone another surgery to reconstruct his skull and would have another one in the coming weeks.

Zanardi lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago. He won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.