Jack Hawksworth looks to boost IndyCar hopes at Sebring

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Indy Lights prospect Jack Hawksworth will continue his bid to elevate himself into the IndyCar Series for 2014 when he tests for Dale Coyne Racing this week at Sebring International Raceway.

DCR will be part of a two-day Honda manufacturer test that begins on Wednesday at the Florida road course.

“The Honda manufacturer test is a massive shop window and an exciting opportunity to measure myself against the leading IndyCar drivers and really prove my potential at the highest level,” Hawksworth said in a release about the Coyne test.

“There will be some championship-winning teams and drivers there, and if I do a good job, hopefully my performance will keep my name in the frame for next year.”

Hawksworth was in the hunt for the Indy Lights championship this past season before finishing fourth in the standings with three victories and seven Top-5 finishes. During that campaign, he tested an IndyCar for the first time at Sebring but for another team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

The Englishman believes that his confidence has grown as a result of the RLL test and that he’ll be able to have a better handle on things as he tests this week.

“[The RLL test] gives me a good footing to start from, and I also feel a lot more prepared returning to Sebring now as I’ll know more what to expect and will be able to treat it more like a normal test day,” he said.

“I’ve got a much better idea of what I’ll want from the car, I know the track well, I’m generally just a lot more sure of myself and that should all stand me in solid stead to go out there and turn it up a notch. It’s a big chance to make an impression and really spark some interest.”

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.