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INDYCAR reduces cost of universal aero kits

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INDYCAR officials released cost numbers about the 2018 universal aero kits last week, confirming that the cost of aero kits will be reduced.

According to INDYCAR, each full season entrant will receive a pair of aero kits at no cost. Given that each aero kit carries a price tag of $90,000, that’s a savings of $180,000 off the bat.

Further, the cost of the aero kits will be locked in through the 2020 IndyCar season and each team has been provided guidelines to convert their current Dallara IR-12 chassis (also known as the DW12) to the newer specs.

The reduction in costs comes as a result of efforts from INDYCAR, Chevrolet, and Honda, as well as a grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Jay Frye, president of competition and operations for INDYCAR, expressed that cost reduction was a big priority of the aero package.

“When INDYCAR undertook the process of creating the universal kit that makes our cars sleeker, safer and racier, we also worked hard to make sure it would be cost effective to our teams,” Frye said of the cost reductions.

While all Verizon IndyCar Series teams are scheduled to receive their aero kits this month, team testing begins after the new year in January.

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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.