“Prologue” written: Mark Webber and Porsche top two-day WEC test

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The World Endurance Championship seems to be suiting former F1 fan favorite Mark Webber just fine.

Webber, who completed a 12-year run on the Grand Prix circuit last year with Red Bull, has helped Porsche attain top honors in the WEC’s two-day preseason test known as the “Prologue.”

On Friday night at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France, The No. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid team of Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley set what proved to be the quickest time of the Prologue – a lap of 1:41.289 with Hartley at the controls.

The No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Tom Kristensen, was quickest on Saturday but with a slower quick time of 1:43.017 that was set in the morning. The final, afternoon session of the Prologue was marked by strong winds and only eight cars took laps in that particular session.

Altogether, the two Porsche squads – the No. 20 and the No. 14 919 Hybrid for Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, and Marc Lieb – turned a total of 614 laps across the two-day run at Paul Ricard. Suffice to say, they were pleased.

“This test here was a big milestone,” Webber said in a statement. “To enter two cars for the first time was a tremendous amount of hard work for the crew on the operational side. Smooth running was a well-deserved award and a good tonic for the guys after a long week.

“Every day we run, we find more areas to improve, which is very encouraging. The track lay-out at Paul Ricard seems to suit our car very well. I’m curious to find out how we can perform in Silverstone.”

The WEC season begins at the venerable British track with a six-hour affair on Sunday, April 20th. The series will visit the U.S. once again at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas later this fall.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”