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IndyCar won’t add Mexico City race for 2018 season

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On Thursday, INDYCAR has confirmed it won’t be adding an extra round of the championship in Mexico City for its 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

A Mexico round was left off the initial 2018 calendar released, but Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles said on a teleconference later that day that Mexico was still possible and projected for August.

Had it been added, it seemed to get set for the August 3-5, 2018 weekend, which would have been a week after the Honda Indy 200 from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

But alas, it won’t happen. First reported by the Sports Business Journal and confirmed via IndyCar’s website, the series said it’ll continue to work on a race down the road.

“INDYCAR is invested in the process of putting together the right deal with a partner we are certain can deliver this race,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, the parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“We are not at the point where we can finalize a contract for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season and felt that we couldn’t delay the decision any longer, in fairness to our teams, manufacturers and other stakeholders who need time to properly prepare for an event of such magnitude.

“INDYCAR appreciates the rich racing history in Mexico and we would like to be part of that once again. We will keep working with the intent of making an INDYCAR event in Mexico City a reality in the future.”

The last North American open-wheel series race in Mexico was to cap off the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, when Sebastien Bourdais won over Will Power and Oriol Servia.

MEXICO CITY, DF – NOVEMBER 11: Sebastien Bourdais driver of the #1 McDonald’s Newman Haas Lanigan Racing Panoz DP0 celebrates with second placed Will Power and third placed Oriol Servia after winning the ChampCar World Series Grand Premio Tecate on November 11, 2007 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)

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.