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Kris Meeke: 2017 Citroen WRC car ‘a different beast’

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Kris Meeke believes that drivers will be able to make a bigger difference through the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship season following the introduction of new technical regulations.

A revision to the regulations for 2017 has given teams greater freedom and additional engine power, resulting in more exciting and spectacular cars for the new campaign.

Citroen will return to the WRC full-time in 2017 after only entering select events this year so that it could fully prepare for the regulation change.

After Citroen launched its new car, the C3 WRC, earlier this week, Meeke spoke warmly of the greater challenge that awaits drivers next season.

“The 2017 car is an exciting machine, it’s quite a big step from 2016,” Meeke said.

“We know the regulation changes but when you drive them in anger, they’re a different beast. You really have to be on your game, every metre, to keep on top of them.

“For me, the human element will come to the front even more in 2017, because in places it’s going to be difficult to extract the potential of these cars. At times they are so, so fast.”

Meeke claimed two wins for Citroen through 2016 in Portugal and Finland, and has been tipped to mount a challenge for the title in 2017.

However, the Briton remains coy about his chances, believing that the regulation changes will present opportunities to all of the WRC’s manufacturers.

“We’ve been pushing hard in testing but you can never really tell until you get to competition and go up against other drivers and cars,” Meeke said.

“I’m happy that we’ve done good work but there’s still always that thought in your mind, that we don’t know where we are in reference with our rivals.”

The new WRC season gets underway with Rally Monte-Carlo on January 19.

Kubica, di Resta complete Williams F1 tests in Hungary

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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.”