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Adrian Newey ‘has his mojo back’ ahead of new F1 season

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Red Bull Racing chief Christian Horner says Formula 1 car design guru Arian Newey “has his mojo back” ahead the 2017 season as he balance a number of ongoing projects.

Newey has won 10 constructors’ championship during his time in F1 with Williams, McLaren and Red Bull, and is widely regarded as one of the finest technical minds to have graced the sport.

Newey’s attention has been split in recent years, playing a key role in designing the new Aston Martin Valkyrie road car as part of the British manufacturer’s partnership with Red Bull as part of a push to explore new projects.

With aerodynamic performance set to be crucial once again in F1 this year following a shift in the technical regulations, Horner says that Newey is back in the groove and excited about working on the RB13 car.

“Adrian definitely has his mojo back again,” Horner told the official F1 website.

“Right now he is juggling two projects – the Aston Martin car and the RB13 – but he’s got a great team and together they are doing a super job.

“Adrian is contributing effectively into that. It’s great to see him enthused again about Formula 1.”

Red Bull enters 2017 looking to build on an impressive campaign last year that saw the team claim two race wins and finish second in the constructors’ championship behind Mercedes.

Drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen claimed one win apiece, and Horner is confident that Red Bull has the best pairing in F1 this year.

“I honestly believe we have the strongest pairing,” Horner said.

“Ricciardo drove a wonderful year last year and is really hitting peak form and, with the exciting talent that is Max Verstappen, who is getting stronger and stronger, the dynamics in the team are fantastic.”

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.