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Vettel resets track record on second-to-last day of testing

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Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel set the lap record around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Thursday, the second-to-last day of pre-season testing for the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

Vettel’s lap, at 1:17.182, was set on the new hyper-soft tire compound, and bested the day’s second fastest lap, from Haas F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen, by over one second. Scuderia Toro Rosso continued to show impressive form with Pierre Gasly turning in the third fastest lap of the day, while Renault Sport F1 Team’s Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. went fourth and fifth on the day.

Behind them, Mercedes AMG Petronas teammates Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas appeared to languish in eighth and ninth, but their fastest laps were set on the much harder medium compound tires as they spent the day focusing on long runs.

And that long-run pace could be daunting, as they were reportedly significantly quicker than their closest rivals Ferrari and Red Bull Racing over similar long runs. It remains to be seen how this will play out on race weekends, but Mercedes could easily be lurking in the background as other teams set fast individual lap times.

Results from Thursday can be found here. Pre-season testing concludes on Friday.

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Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.