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Haas matches debut F1 season points total after nine races in 2017

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Romain Grosjean’s sixth-place finish in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix saw Haas match its score from its debut Formula 1 season after just nine rounds of the 2017 campaign.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous F1 operation onto the grid in 2016, with Grosjean scoring all 29 of its points across the 21-race campaign.

Haas has made yet more progress through 2017, enjoying its first double-points finish earlier this year as Grosjean and new teammate Kevin Magnussen both impressed.

Grosjean enjoyed a perfect race in Austria on Sunday to finish sixth, trailing only the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers to win the midfield battle for Haas.

“It was pretty strong, really strong first lap,” Grosjean told NBCSN. “I was P4, enjoyed that for a little bit, but then Lewis [Hamilton] passed me.

“[I] focused on Perez, keeping him behind, and we pushed hard all the way, that’s the racing we like, hammering it down. Finished a bit tired but that’s what we love.

“It was a great race, great job from the guys, happy with the car all weekend long. There are a few things we need to improve clearly, but happy with that.

“We were the best of the rest. We won ‘Formula 1 Grand Prix 2′!”

The result saw Haas move on to 29 points in the constructors’ championship after just nine races, with the American team now sitting just four shy of Toro Rosso in sixth place.

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.