Alexander Rossi ready for practice running in Montreal

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American driver Alexander Rossi is set to take part in practice for the Canadian Grand Prix next month as he continues his charge for a Formula One seat in the near future.

Rossi was due to represent Caterham in Bahrain, but the team opted to give Heikki Kovalainen the practice session instead in order to gauge the difference between the 2012 and 2013 cars. As a result, the team re-scheduled Rossi’s practice run-out, and he will now get his chance at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve next month.

“Obviously the weekends that I’m not doing GP2 I’ll be looking to be drive the F1 car in Friday practice sessions and that will start in Montreal,” Rossi explained to ESPNF1.

“Beyond that I’ll be doing at least one more, and possibly others, but it’s hard to say exactly what will happen because in F1 you never know for certain until you’re in the car. Whatever happens, the more time you can spend in an F1 car the better.”

Opportunities such as this are crucial for up-and-coming test drivers, and Rossi will be balancing his commitments with a GP2 campaign, to which he made an impressive start in Bahrain by finishing on the podium.

“I don’t see any reason why we can’t have a run at the championship this year and that’s what I’ve got to target.”

The change of plan does mean that Rossi will be running in front of many fans in Canada, with a large American contingency attending the race in Montreal. Many will be keen on seeing Rossi get some track time at the United States Grand Prix towards the end of the season as he looks to become the first full-time American F1 driver in over five years.

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.