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Massa leads Monza FP3 washout as rain cuts running to 16 minutes

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Felipe Massa emerged as an unlikely leader in final Formula 1 practice for the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday morning at Monza as rain cut running to just 16 minutes and allowed just seven drivers to post a time.

Heavy rain overnight and throughout the morning left the track soaked when the session was due to start at 11am local time, prompting officials to delay the start of FP3 indefinitely until conditions improved.

After a number of outings in the Safety Car to gauge conditions, FIA race director Charlie Whiting took advantage of an ease in the downpour to get the session under with 16 minutes left on the clock, giving teams a chance to venture out through the spray.

While every driver completed at least one installation lap, the majority of the field opted against putting in a time, fearful of damaging their cars ahead of qualifying.

Massa was able to emerge as the fastest driver with a couple of minutes to spare, his time of 1:40.660 giving him a lead of two-tenths of a second over Williams teammate Lance Stroll.

Nico Hulkenberg finished third for Renault ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Jolyon Palmer, while Marcus Ericsson and Daniil Kvyat were sixth and seventh, the last of the drivers with a time on the board.

Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 8am ET on Saturday.

Pirelli reveals new super-hard, hyper-soft F1 tires in Abu Dhabi

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Pirelli has confirmed it will add two new tires to its range for the 2018 Formula 1 season, launching the ‘super-hard’ and ‘hyper-soft’ compounds in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Pirelli currently makes three of its five dry compounds available to teams for each race weekend, and despite varying selections across the course of the season has struggled to offer much in terms of strategy options, with one-stop races being the norm.

The hope is that the addition of two new tire compounds and a re-alignment of their durability will offer teams more choices in races.

Pirelli confirmed plans to introduce a new softest tire below the current ultra-soft earlier this month, inviting fans to pick a name.

The pink-colored compound will be known as the ‘hyper-soft’ from next year, with the arrival of a new ‘super-hard’ (colored ‘ice blue’) also being confirmed at a launch event in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

“Compared to this year, when the tires grew by 25% to fit a brand-new generation of cars, the changes for next year are less far-reaching,” Pirelli head of car racing Mario Isola said.

“However, we’re pleased to present some important innovations with softer and faster compounds across the range: including the new hypersoft.

“We realized that, under the unique circumstances of this year, some of our 2017 compounds were perhaps conservative: the tires we have created for 2018 addresses this, in line with the objective of having around two pit stops at most races.

“However, the fundamental design concept of the tires hasn’t changed next year, preserving the attributes that all drivers have appreciated this year and allowing them to push hard from the start to the finish of each stint.

“The new range consists of faster tires that should lead to even harder and more spectacular racing in 2018.”

Besides the seven dry compounds made available, there will be the two rain tires – wet and intermediate – taking it to a total of nine for the 2018 season.