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FIA WEC adjusts ‘super season’ schedule; adds Silverstone back

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Following a mix of fan and competitor feedback, the FIA World Endurance Championship has adjusted its calendar for its maiden 2018-2019 “super season.”

A provisional “TBC” date in February 2019 has been moved back to Silverstone, which was left off the initial calendar when it was announced at the Mexico City round two weeks ago.

The Silverstone round will run on August 19, 2018, as the third round in the championship after the traditional dress rehearsal at Spa and then the first of two 24 Hours of Le Mans within the calendar.

Meanwhile the 6 Hours of Fuji race, which was originally slated for October 13-14, has been pushed back one week to October 21.

This avoids a direct conflict with Motul Petit Le Mans, announced for October 10-13, 2018.

That also moves the Shanghai round back a couple weeks, originally announced for November 3-4, to November 17-18, owing to transport time.

The FIA WEC races at Circuit of The Americas this weekend for what is expected to be the final time at the permanent road course in Austin. In terms of a next FIA WEC race in the U.S., there’s more here from DailySportscar about the evolving plans for the Sebring 2019 round.

The revised calendar is below.

2018-2019 FIA World Endurance Championship Updated Provisional Calendar

1. 4-5 May – WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL)
2. 16-17 June – 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA)
3. 18-19 August – 6 Hours of Silverstone (GBR)
4. 20-21 October – 6 Hours of Fuji (JPN)
5. 17-18 November – 6 Hours of Shanghai (CHN)
6. 15-16 March 2019 – 12 Hours of Sebring (USA)
7. 3-4 May 2019 – WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL)
8. 15-16 June 2019 – 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA)

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.