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Horner keen to see return of Procar-style series for F1 drivers

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner would like to see the sport’s new owner, Liberty Media, revive a one-make series for drivers similar to the Procar championship that ran in 1979 and 1980.

Procar saw a number of F1 drivers go head-to-head in identical BMW M1 sportscars on a number of race weekends, supporting the grand prix.

The series only lasted two years and was followed by a one-off event at the Nürburgring in 1984, but has remained a fond memory for many in F1 who relished the chance to see elite drivers be separated by nothing but their ability behind the wheel.

Following its takeover of F1 in January, Liberty is working on plans to make the sport more entertaining, and Horner thinks a Procar-style series would help make drivers more active on race weekends.

“I’d love to see drivers more active over a race weekend,” Horner told Sky Sports.

“Years ago there was the Procar series. Get them driving in a different discipline. Why not get them involved in something like that with a one-make formula? Porsche Supercup, why not put the drivers all in that?”

Horner was asked about a possible clash between manufacturers, with the likes of Ferrari and Honda perhaps unwilling to field their drivers in a rival company’s car, but the Red Bull team boss thinks a solution can be found.

“Well if you moved it around, you could have them all in Aston Martins one weekend, Ferraris the next, Hondas the next. Or find a manufacturer that’s acceptable,” Horner said.

“But I think something like that, something to see the drivers’ skill and personality. They’re pretty quiet over a grand prix weekend.

“The sessions used to be longer, there used to be Sunday morning warm-ups, they used to be a lot more active and they have a lot of time on their hands now.”

Horner favored the return of a Procar-style series over the addition of a sprint race or reverse grid event to grand prix weekends that may offer half-points for the championship.

“I hate that idea, I think grand prix racing, the grand prix is the main event on a Sunday afternoon. Anything gimmicky like that is just WWF,” Horner said.

“Let’s just create great content and have great racing on a Sunday afternoon, and get the drivers racing wheel to wheel and them be the heroes.

“Then we don’t need gimmicks like reverse grids.”

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.