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Tost happy with challenge posed by 2017 Pirelli F1 tires

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Toro Rosso Formula 1 chief Franz Tost sees no issue with the tires that Pirelli has supplied to the sport for the 2017 season, believing they pose a good challenge.

Pirelli revised its tire compounds for 2017 as part of a shake-up of F1’s technical regulations, making them more durable so that drivers could push them harder.

Teams have managed the new challenge with varying levels of success. While Ferrari has been particularly prolific on the softer compounds, Mercedes has struggled, with its failure to finish on the podium in Monaco being attributed to its ultra-soft tire woes.

Speaking over the Monaco weekend, Tost said that while Pirelli’s tires were proving a challenge for the drivers and engineers to understand, this was no bad thing.

“The tires are a challenge, to understand them, how they work,” Tost said.

“But it’s good for the engineers as well as for the drivers to find out in which window they can get their earliest peak and they can get the most out of it.

“In motorsports, they have to understand the tire because it’s a performance differentiator and therefore I can only say positive [things] about Pirelli.

“In my opinion they do a good job and today I saw the same for all the teams and we have to find the best possible solution and get the most out of it.

“And there are always complaints; either they are too soft or they are too hard or this or that. Forget it, they should sit in the car and should push. That’s it.”

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.