Vettel’s F1 title hopes fading fast after early Japan retirement (VIDEO)

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Sebastian Vettel’s Formula 1 championship hopes took another huge hit in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix after an engine issue forced him to retire from the race early.

Vettel led the drivers’ championship for Ferrari all the way up to the Italian Grand Prix at the end of September, when Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton moved three points ahead.

Vettel retired in Singapore and finished fourth in Malaysia, with Hamilton going P1 and P2 in those races to move 34 points clear heading into this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Ferrari was forced to change a spark plug on Vettel’s car on the grid after finding an issue, only for the German to report a lack of power soon after the race starting.

Vettel lost a place to Max Verstappen at the hairpin before slipping all the way back to sixth on the main straight, with yet more positions being lost after a brief safety car period.

Ferrari had no choice but to retire Vettel from the race, ending his hopes of cutting the gap to Hamilton, who currently leads the race for Mercedes.

Should Hamilton win at Suzuka, the Briton would be able to wrap up the F1 title in two weeks’ time at the United States Grand Prix if he won in Austin and Vettel finished sixth or lower.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
James Gilbert/Getty Images
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.