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Fresh start for Renault F1 in Montreal after Monaco struggles

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Renault Formula 1 chief Cyril Abiteboul believes that next weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix marks a “fresh start” for the team after a difficult outing in Monaco that saw it miss out on points.

Renault saw Nico Hulkenberg retire early on in Monaco with an engine issue, while teammate Jolyon Palmer continued his point-less run of form as he could only cross the line 11th.

The result saw Renault fail to score points for the first time since the second round of the season in China, but Abiteboul felt that the reliability issues that blighted its efforts were to be expected six rounds into the campaign.

“Monaco was a very testing weekend for the team. We experienced reliability issues on mechanical components that were on the last race of their cycle,” Abiteboul said.

“These are challenges that all teams can experience, it is part and parcel of life in modern-day Formula 1. Monaco highlighted the areas we need to improve and further confirmed elements we knew about.

“And with the new components, we are now ready to attack the next race with the same perseverance and attitude.”

Abiteboul confirmed that Renault would be taking updated engine and gearbox parts to Canada, where he believes the team can start a new for the 2017 season.

“Canada is all about bouncing back and making a fresh start. We now have a more robust engine and gearbox and we can fully focus on maximizing performance,” Abiteboul said.

“The team in Enstone are heading to the race with an aerodynamic package adapted to the Montreal circuit.

“However, due to the challenges of the track, we certainly don’t expect an easy race.”

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.