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Sebastian Vettel wants F1 weekend format to remain unchanged


Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has called for Formula 1’s weekend format to remain unchanged as the sport’s new owner, Liberty Media, considers ideas to improve the racing spectacle.

Liberty completed its takeover of F1 in January, and has been discussing ways in which to make F1 more entertaining, with one idea raised being a change in the current weekend format.

Three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has been one of the leading voices in the call for change, saying there should be shorter sprint races on certain weekends, such as Monaco, where overtaking is notoriously difficult.

The loss of practice to the weather on Friday in China re-ignited the debate about how weekend schedules should run, but Vettel said he was wary about F1 making changes for no reason, and stressed that the current grand prix format should remain untouched.

“I’m maybe very old-school on many things, and I think that some things we shouldn’t change. The way people look at it now after one race, after a couple of races, they would like to see a change, but I think it’s wrong to change too much,” Vettel said.

“I think it’s important to keep a certain framework consistent throughout time, so I think every now and then it’s important to listen to people, but I think with surveys it’s always difficult to get a very clear picture. I think too much change, equally, is wrong.

“Just to give an example, when there was talk about the race format, I think it would be quite bad to get rid of one race, one grand prix.

“I think it would take away the highlight of the weekend by putting two races, for example, or to make the race shorter because they say it’s too boring and lasts too long.

“I think that’s the grand prix: that’s how it’s always been. It’s been even longer in the past, if you look a long way back, and it should remain a challenge. Making it shorter, more exciting, whatever, I think it’s not a grand prix any more.

“I’m a bit skeptical to have change for the sake of change.”

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.