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Lauda cites ‘unfinished business’ in WEC after 2016 title loss

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Aston Martin Racing driver Mathias Lauda says he has “unfinished business” in the FIA World Endurance Championship after missing out on the GTE Am title in 2016.

Alongside Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana, Lauda won five WEC races last year in the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, but the trio could only finish third in the standings for both GTE Am championships.

Retirements in Mexico, Bahrain and – most crucially – the double-points race at Le Mans meant Lauda and co. missed out on the title, with the No. 83 AF Corse entry comprising Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas was able to clinch both crowns.

After also missing out on any WEC title in 2015, Lauda says he has a score to settle ahead of the start of the new endurance season at Silverstone on April 16.

“In WEC, it’s a lot about Le Mans. You need to finish because it’s double points,” Lauda told the official WEC website.

“This was the turning point where we lost the championship, because if you don’t finish Le Mans, you lose 50 points.

“At the end of the day, it was a great year. We had so many wins but we were just a bit unlucky by not finishing three races and couldn’t seal the title, which was really disappointing.

“We have unfinished business. This year, our full focus is on being really consistent, we will give everything not to do any mistakes and full focus to finish all the races.”

Lauda, Lamy and Dalla Lana will team up once again in 2017, racing in a five-car full-season GTE Am class.

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.