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Vettel skeptical of Singapore repeat at Suzuka

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Sebastian Vettel does not expect Mercedes to struggle as it did in Singapore last Sunday at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, believing that he and Ferrari are poised for a “tough weekend”.

Vettel claimed his third grand prix victory of the 2015 Formula 1 season at Marina Bay with a dominant display, going lights-to-flag as Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg ran off the pace all weekend.

The win reignited Vettel’s faint hopes of winning a fifth world championship in 2015, but the German expects Mercedes to return to the front of the field this weekend and resume its dominance in the sport.

“I think you have to remain realistic,” Vettel said. “In a way it was a big surprise to see Mercedes struggling, which I don’t expect to be the case here. It would be a big surprise.

“But if the chance is there we have to go for it. As I said, the nature of the track is completely different here. We’ll have to wait. The weather could bring a lot of surprises as well. It’s going to be a tough weekend.”

Vettel has finished on the podium in all six of his previous appearances at Suzuka, standing on the top step on four occasions with Red Bull, and its old school nature makes it one of his favorite tracks to race at.

“I love the track, it’s a driver’s circuit,” Vettel said. “I think we all love the track. It’s one of the old school circuits on the calendar. It’s a lot of fun.

“If you want to know what a Formula 1 car can do then the first sector I would say sums it up and says pretty much all. In my point of view, [it’s] the best track in the world and great fun to be here.”

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.”