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Raikkonen, Vettel lead Abu Dhabi F1 test days for Ferrari

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Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel topped the final two days of Formula 1 running in 2017 as teams stayed on in Abu Dhabi for a Pirelli tire test earlier this week.

Pirelli has worked closely with all 10 teams across the course of the year to work on its 2018 tire compounds, and brought them together at the Yas Marina Circuit after previously conducting private, individual tests.

Teams were not allowed to test any new parts on their cars, but took advantage of the running to give their drivers a better understanding of next year’s tires when two extra dry compounds will be made available.

Raikkonen led the opening day of the test for Ferrari with a fastest time on the new ‘hypersoft’ compound, which will become the softest option next year, best-suited to street circuits where grip levels are low.

The Finn handed over to teammate Sebastian Vettel for the second day of the test on Wednesday, who kept Ferrari at the head of the timesheets by finishing almost one second clear of the field.

The biggest talking point of the test was Robert Kubica’s extended run with Williams as he pushes to secure a race seat for 2017 and return to F1 seven years after his last grand prix.

The Pole racked up 100 laps on Tuesday in the Williams FW40 and a further 28 on Wednesday in what appears to be a final evaluation of his capabilities by the team after suffering severe injuries to his right hand and arm in a rally accident in the 2011 off-season.

Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc racked up plenty of mileage for Sauber ahead of an expected announcement in the coming days, while other youngsters on display included Lando Norris, Nikita Mazepin, Sergey Sirotkin and Sean Gelael.

F1 teams will next hit the track with their 2018 cars at pre-season testing in February.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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