FIA WEC: Solid first outing for Mark Webber and Porsche

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It was not a bad way to begin a new career for former Formula One star Mark Webber, and it was not a bad way for his Porsche team to return to the top level of sports car racing.

Webber, Timo Bernhard, and Brendon Hartley may not have had the speed to challenge the winning Toyotas at the Six Hours of Silverstone, but they were able to claim a spot on the overall podium with a third-place result.

Additionally, Porsche claimed a 1-2 finish in the GTE-Pro category as Marco Holzer, Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz – in the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR – earned the win by 45 seconds over the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR and its team of Patrick Pilet, Jorg Bergmeister, and Nick Tandy.

The Pilet-Bergmeister-Tandy combo actually held the point for much of the World Endurance Championship’s season opener, but pitted just prior to the safety car coming out as rain began to severely intensify at Silverstone.

That left Holzer-Makowiecki-Lietz ahead in their No. 92, and ultimately, the race was stopped just less than a half-hour from its scheduled finish.

However, Porsche likely knows that it still has work to do, particularly in terms of gaining speed with their Prototypes, the 919 Hybrids.

As Motorsport.com’s Steven Cole Smith reports, the Webber-Bernhard-Hartley No. 20 919 Hybrid logged a 1:45.2 as the team’s best lap of the day. However, it was slower than that of the No. 1 Audi (1:44.2) and both of the Toyotas (who finished 1-2 in the race after both Audis crashed out).

Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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While the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is still two months away from beginning its 2018 season, this past week did bring about news items that filled out the 2018 grid and shed some light on individual team and car launches as the season-opening Australian Grand Prix draws closer.

Below is a recap of F1 news from this past week:

Williams Signs Sirotkin for 2018 Drive, Names Kubica as Reserve Driver

The saga of the second seat at Williams Martini Racing was finally resolved early on in the week, with former Renault Sport F1 Team test driver Sergey Sirotkin officially confirmed as a teammate to the incumbent Lance Stroll in 2018.

The announcement concluded months of speculation that saw multiple drivers test for the team in an auditioning capacity. Most notably, Robert Kubica looked to be a main contender for the seat before Sirotkin emerged as the favorite.

However, Kubica, who has not raced in Formula 1 since a devastating rally accident in 2011 left him with brutal injuries to his right arm, was named as a reserve and development driver for the team.

This announcement also completes the 2018 Formula 1 driver lineup, with all 11 teams having their seats now filled. Among those who were left without F1 drives are Paul Di Resta, who drove for Williams at the Hungarian Grand Prix in relief of Felipe Massa and even tested with them during the Winter months, and Antonio Giovinazzi, who filled in for Pascal Wehrlein at the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix.

Former Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also without a race seat for 2018, but did sign on with Scuderia Ferrari as a development driver.

Mercedes, McLaren Reveal Dates for Their 2018 Car Launches

While most teams have not yet released dates for when their 2018 cars will be publicly launched, three notables have.

Mercedes AMG Petronas will introduce its 2018 challenger on February 22nd, the same day Ferrari is doing so, while McLaren will unveil its car one day later on the 23rd.

Testing will commence on February 26th at Circuit de Catalunya.

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