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Saturday, Sep 26th

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Pietro Fittipladi, grandson of 2 time F1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, was crowned 2015 MRF Challenge Champion after a commanding win in Race 3 at the MMRT in Chennai. Fittipaldi won from pole position ahead of Harrison Newey and Nikita Troitckii. Fittipaldi finished on 244 points while Colombian Tatiana Calderon finished second with 199 points, just eight ahead of Russian driver Nikita Troitckii (191). Alessio Picariello made up for yesterday’s disappointment with a comfortable win in the second race of the day followed by the impressive Mick Schumacher and Tatiana Calderon.

In Race 3, Fittipaldi starting on pole position had the perfect start and lead into the first corner ahead of Newey with Troitckii in 3rd place. Nerses Isaakyan and Enzo Bortoleto collided in C2, bringing out the safety car for the first time this weekend. When racing resumed Fittipaldi and Newey pulled away from the rest of the pack as Troitckii had a battle on his hands with a fast charging Calderon. Behind them Schumacher who lost two positions at the start was battling with Picariello.

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Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher finished the United States Grand Prix in 13th and 16th places respectively today. Nico followed a one-stop prime/option strategy in the race today, stopping on lap 34. It was meant to give him a chance to be competitive with a long first run, and kept him in the reckoning at the half-way stage, but his pit stop dropped him down the order, and the young German failed to find the pace necessary to carve his way through the field.

Michael's race was converted from one to two stops when it became clear his first set of tyres were struggling. The veteran superstar, in his penultimate race for Mercedes had a bruising first run, and was involved in a lot of battles up and down the order. However, after a good start to the weekend, the car just wasn't able to get enough out of the tyres and Schumacher was forced to settle for 16th place.

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vettel_pit_stopReigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, chasing his fourth straight win of the season, began his defence of the Indian Grand Prix in perfect fashion, setting a 1:27.619 lap to top the timesheets in the morning's Free Practice session. Vettel was over three-tenths of a second quicker than Jenson Button, who found some much needed form on his final lap to be the only other driver to break 1:28s. Fernando Alonso sent out a warning to all those who believe his title challenge is fading by being third quickest with a time of 1:28.044. In fact, there was just one hundredths of a second separating the Ferrari driver and Vettel before the Red Bull man posted one final quick lap to wrap up his morning's work.

Lewis Hamilton, who was quickest in Friday free practice 1 here last season - almost a full second faster than today's best time - was also very much in the picture today, just 0.002 seconds off Alonso's pace. Red Bull's Mark Webber rounded off the top 5.

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delighted_vettelSebastian Vettel followed up a stunning pole with a dominant victory at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka.  The German now is the first back to back race winner this season turning the championship momentum firmly in his favour as the championship leader crashed out on the first lap for the second time in four races. Alonso’s championship lead has now been cut to just 4 points making the final 5 races of the year a straight shootout between the two rivals with Red Bull’s recent dominant pace giving Vettel the edge. It wasn’t all bad news for Ferrari as Felipe Massa finally made the podium for the first time this year with a strong second place having started in 11th. Kamui Kobayashi rounded off the podium taking a popular third place staving off the efforts of McLaren’s Button who finished strongly in fourth. The reception for the Japanese was deafening and the crowd chanting his name calling out their hero must rank among the very best feelings in Kobayashi’s career.

After the first lap mayhem that claimed multiple cars including Alonso and Rosberg, it was a relatively measured Japanese Grand Prix. Hamilton finished a relatively uninspired drive in 5th place ahead of Raikkonen who staved off the  charging Force India of Nico Hulkenberg. Maldonado finished just behind in 8th while Webber finished in 9th. Daniel Ricciardo had to absorb loads of pressure from Michael Schumacher but eventually kept him at bay to take the all important final championship point.

The win was Vettel’s 24th F1 win and third this season keeping Red Bull well ahead in the Constructors championship as well. Alonso put on a brave face saying, “It happened to me this time, it could happen to him next time. It becomes almost a mini championship now and we have to win one point more than the other guy”.Vettel concurred saying that things were quite unpredictable in F1 but was undoubtedly focussed on the final championship phase. Raikkonen and Hamilton are still in with a chance with 157 and 152 points respectively, but both will need a massive step up in pace and consistency to mount a serious title tilt in the remaining five races.

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michael_schumacher3Michael Schumacher has announced that he will retire from Formula One for the second time at the end of the 2012 season. The seven-time World Champion announced the decision in his press briefing with the media at Suzuka, the confirmation from the legendary German coming less than a week after his team Mercedes revealed they had signed Lewis Hamilton to replace him for 2013.

In wake of that announcement paddock rumors were abuzz that the German ace may look to prolong his career elsewhere on the grid, with the Sauber team tipped to be hot favorites to sign the man, fondly called the "RainMeister".

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The F1 driver musical chairs for 2013 is finally underway with Lewis Hamilton's long-speculated move to Mercedes confirmed earlier today. The 2008 World Champion leaves McLaren after five years in the top flight at the Woking squad, the team having supported his career since he was 13 years old.

Hamilton will replace Michael Schumacher who is expected to retire for a second time after what were admittedly an unsuccessful three years since his comeback in 2010. The German accrued a single podium finish in that period, and has failed to finish in 7 races this season.

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