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All 10 F1 teams to help Pirelli develop 2018-spec tires

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Pirelli has confirmed that all 10 Formula 1 teams will play a part in helping to develop its new tires for the 2018 season.

Pirelli called on teams to help develop its revised tires for the 2017 season, with an increase in size of 25 per cent intended to hark back to the look used by F1 in the 1970s and ’80s.

Only Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull decided to get involved, creating ‘mule cars’ – altered versions of their 2016 chassis to reflect 2017 levels of downforce – to conduct running at a number of circuits.

Pirelli once again approached every team on the grid to help develop its compounds for 2018, and confirmed on Saturday that all 10 have agreed to play a part using their current cars.

“The way that the tests will be carried out remains identical to last year, so these will still be ‘blind’ tests, without the teams and drivers knowing exactly which type of tires they are trying out,” Pirelli’s statement reads.

“Eight circuits will host the development program. As well as Bahrain, where Ferrari will devote one car to tire testing on Tuesday, tests will also take place in Barcelona, Silverstone, Magny- Cours, Budapest (again during the in-season test immediately following the grand prix), Mexico and Interlagos.

“There will also be a wet test at Paul Ricard, using the circuit’s facilities that allow the surface to be artificially dampened.”

Pirelli 2018 F1 Tire Testing Programme

1. Bahrain – April 18-19 – Ferrari
2. Barcelona – May 16-17 – Renault/Toro Rosso
3. Paul Ricard – May 31 – June 1 – Red Bull
4. Paul Ricard – June 29-30 – Red Bull
5. Silverstone – July 18-19 – Williams/Haas
6. Magny-Cours – July 19-20 – McLaren
7. Budapest – August 1-2 – Mercedes
8. Barcelona – August 3-4 – Ferrari
9. Paul Ricard – September 7-8 – Mercedes
10. Mexico – October 31 – November 1 – Sauber/Force India
11. Interlagos – November 14-15 – McLaren

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.