© AP

Vettel closes out Abu Dhabi F1 practice fastest for Ferrari

Leave a comment

Sebastian Vettel bounced back from a gearbox issue in FP2 to finish fastest in the final Formula 1 practice session of the season on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.

Four-time world champion Vettel has endured a tough year with Ferrari in 2016, failing to win a race or put up a fight for the drivers’ title despite high pre-season hopes.

However, ahead of the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, Vettel gave Ferrari a boost by topping the timesheets in FP3 at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Vettel put in a fastest lap time of 1:40.775 on the ultra-soft tire to finish 0.137 seconds clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, with Kimi Raikkonen slotting into third place for Ferrari.

Mercedes had enjoyed the early edge in the session, but did not show its hand completely late on as title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg ended FP3 in fourth and fifth place respectively.

Daniel Ricciardo finished FP3 sixth for Red Bull, opting to limit his running to save tires for qualifying, with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg ending up seventh and eighth for Force India. Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez rounded out the top 10.

Although the results point to a shaken-up grid, with qualifying taking place in far different conditions as the sun sets in Abu Dhabi, FP3 is a far from representative session.

You can watch qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix live on CNBC and the NBC Sports app from 8am ET on Saturday.

Kubica, di Resta complete Williams F1 tests in Hungary

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta have both completed one-day tests for Williams in a 2014-spec Formula 1 car as part of the team’s evaluation for its 2018 line-up.

Williams is known to be considering a number of drivers to partner Lance Stroll at the team next year, including existing racer Felipe Massa.

Massa is thought to be going up against Kubica and di Resta for the 2018 drive, with the latter duo taking part in a private test at the Hungaroring in Budapest this week to aid the team’s evaluation.

After missing out on a 2018 Renault drive due to lingering questions about his physical condition six years after his rally accident, Kubica tested for Williams at Silverstone last week before getting back behind the wheel of the 2014 FW36 car in Hungary on Tuesday.

Kubica’s test was called “productive” by Williams, with the Pole handing duties over to Mercedes DTM racer di Resta on Wednesday.

Di Resta raced in F1 with Force India between 2010 and 2013 before returning to DTM, but made a surprise return at this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix with Williams when Massa was taken ill. Di Resta impressed on short notice, putting himself in contention for a full-time return to F1 in 2018.

Williams has one of the few remaining seats on offer in F1 for 2018, with Massa’s future known to be in question after a quiet campaign thus far.

The Brazilian had been due to retire from F1 at the end of last year, only for Williams to recall him after Valtteri Bottas’ late move up to Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement.

Massa has made clear he would like to keep racing in F1 next year, but only if the deal is right and if Williams is determined to keep him.

While Massa, Kubica and di Resta appear to be the three leading contenders for the seat, Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe made clear in Japan there was a “large range” of drivers under consideration.

“You’ve probably seen a number of names that are floating around that we’re looking at, but honestly, the range is almost unlimited,” Lowe said.

“We will consider all ideas. We’re not in a super hurry to do so, and we’ll just make sure we land the best line-up we can.”