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Raikkonen sets blistering pace as F1 winter testing ends in Barcelona

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Kimi Raikkonen offered a further indication that Ferrari may be one of the teams to beat in Formula 1 this year by setting a blistering pace on the final day of pre-season testing in Barcelona.

Raikkonen managed to better the existing best time of the winter set by Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel on Thursday, posting a lap of 1:18.634.

The Finn ends pre-season as the only driver to have dipped below the 1:19s range, with his lap being just a couple of tenths off the overall lap record at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, Raikkonen’s day was not without trouble as a late stoppage at the final chicane cost Ferrari some mileage, but it nevertheless ends the winter as the fastest team on paper.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was left to finish as the best of the rest on Friday, posting a fastest lap of 1:19.438, while Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr. ended up third overall, albeit suffering one stoppage on the main straight in the afternoon.

Mercedes split its running between Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton once again in Barcelona, with the drivers finishing fourth and fifth respectively.

Nico Hulkenberg wound up sixth for Renault ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez and new teammate Jolyon Palmer, while Williams rookie Lance Stroll had a trouble-free day en route to P9 overall.

McLaren ended pre-season testing on a sour note as Fernando Alonso’s running was limited once again by issues with his Honda power unit, the Spaniard suffering two on-track stoppages. Alonso finished up 10th, 2.7 seconds off Raikkonen’s benchmark.

Romain Grosjean had one on-track issue for Haas but finished the day 11th ahead of Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein, the latter propping up the timesheets.

With winter testing now complete, the F1 drivers will get their next taste of on-track action during first practice for the Australian Grand Prix on March 24.

Video highlights from Stage 12 of Dakar Rally, 2 stages remain

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Thursday’s Stage 12 of the 40th Dakar Rally not only closed the overall standings gap in at least two classes (cars and trucks), two other classes (bikes and quads) failed to get going due to weather conditions.

The full video highlights of Stage 12 will air on NBCSN on Friday at 7 pm ET, but here are some of the highlights from Thursday’s action:

CARS

2018 Dakar Rally: Nasser Al-Attiyah wins Stage 12 of cars

BIKES

 Stage 12 cancelled due to weather conditions

 

TRUCKS

Ton van Genugten edged out Martin Kolomy in Stage of, while Federico Villagra and Eduard Nikolaev both faced an uphill battle to finish fourth and third respectively.

QUADS

Even though the Quads were also impacted by weather issues on Thursday, Ignacio Casale, the 2014 Dakar winner, continues to make his case for a second overall victory in the quads.