Hamilton: Mercedes F1 car feels ‘fantastically fast’ in Austria

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Lewis Hamilton was buoyed by Mercedes’ performance during Friday’s Formula 1 practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, saying the W08 car feels “fantastically fast”.

Hamilton stormed to the top of the timesheets in both FP1 and FP2 for Mercedes, posting the fastest ever lap of the Red Bull Ring in the afternoon running to finish 0.147 seconds clear of the field.

The British driver is targeting a fightback in Austria after finishing fifth last time out in Baku after his headrest came loose, and was pleased to enjoy a relatively stress-free Friday to set himself up for the rest of the weekend.

“It’s been a really good Friday with no major headaches to complain about so far,” Hamilton said. “We had to swap out a spark plug during FP2, but the guys did a great job to turn the car around and we still managed to complete our program.

“Most importantly, the car feels fantastically fast here. There’s already a nice balance and it feels good out on-track.

“This car is so quick in comparison to what we raced here last year. It’s tricky, but a proper thrill to hook up a lap.

“The team is in good spirits and we’re all up for another exciting fight with the Ferraris this weekend.”

Teammate Valtteri Bottas finished third in both sessions, and was pleased with the impact of the updates brought by the team to Austria for the race weekend.

“There’s a good feeling inside the team and the car is clearly quick here. It was great to see that the upgrades the team worked so hard to deliver for this weekend worked straight out of the box,” Bottas said.

“Aerodynamically we’ve made another step forward from Baku, which is encouraging. This track punishes you if you make a mistake, and I tested those limits, but that’s something I can learn from and build upon for the rest of the weekend.

“The balance of the car feels good and we’ll fine tune the setup some more tonight to be ready for qualifying. Ferrari are looking strong here too, so we’re expecting another interesting weekend ahead.”

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

Audi Sport
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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”