Michael Schumacher to run lap at the Nurburgring

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Michael Schumacher will run a demonstration lap in a 2011-spec Mercedes W02 around the full Nurburgring Nordschleife as a way of saying thanks to the German fans.

His lap on May 19 will be the first one for a modern Mercedes Formula One car since Juan Manuel Fangio’s win there in 1954.

“I have a lot of fond memories of the Nurburgring and am really looking forward to giving fans and friends from my home town of Kerpen – which is quite close to the Nurburgring – something to remember as they see me drive by,” he said.

“But it will be a fantastic experience for me too, driving along the Nordschleife in a state-of-the-art Formula One Silver Arrow, particularly in view of the fact that the Silver Arrow’s legend began here.

“Posting a lap in a modern Silver Arrow on the most beautiful and most testing circuit in the world, what a brilliant mix – it’s every motor racing driver’s dream!”

The seven-time World Champion retired at the end of the 2012 season. Schumacher won five times on the shorter, modern Nurburgring circuit, all when it was called the “European Grand Prix (1995, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006).

The Nurburgring was in the news for other, negative reasons, earlier this year when the track had been defaced by some pranksters.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.