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Hamilton leads Day 4 of F1 testing as Week 1 wraps up

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The first week of pre-season testing for the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season came to a close on Thursday. And although Mother Nature again impacted the day – rain hit the circuit in the morning – the track was dry by the afternoon, allowing for all teams to take to the track.

The improved track conditions allowed for Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton to turn the fastest lap of the week at 1:19.333, just over half a second clear of McLaren F1 Team’s Stoffel Vandoorne, who was second on the leaderboard.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third quickest, followed by Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean and Vandoorne’s McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso.

Thursday also saw a considerable increase in the amount of laps some drivers turned in, possibly in response to Wednesday’s snow out in which only the aforementioned Alonso turned in a timed lap.

Both Vandoorne and Vettel completed over 100 laps – Vandoorne with 110 and Vettel with 120. However, the driver with the most laps to his name on Thursday was Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, who completed a staggering 147 laps around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, by far the most of anyone.

Conversely, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen completed the fewest laps – 35 – in a troublesome day that saw him spin into the gravel trap in Turn 12, causing a brief stoppage as his RB14 was removed.

Results from Thursday can be found here. Testing from the Catalunya circuit resumes on Monday.


Mercedes: F1 teams need to work together to avoid split

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Friday that Formula One teams have a responsibility to try to overcome their differences over the future of the sport in the face of a threat by Ferrari to quit because of a number of proposed changes.

Bernie Ecclestone, who ran F1 for 40 years before being replaced by new owners Liberty Media last year, has raised the possibility that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne could walk away from F1 and form a breakaway series over Liberty’s future vision for the sport.

Ferrari is unhappy with Liberty’s proposal to simplify engines and redistribute prize money among F1 teams after the current contract with teams expires at the end of 2020.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene would not comment on the specifics of Marchionne’s previous comments at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday, but said: “My only suggestion, please take him seriously.”

Wolff is also taking the possibility of Ferrari walking away seriously. He told Britain’s Press Association before the Australian GP that he agreed with Marchionne’s concerns and that Formula One can’t afford to alienate Ferrari or lose the team.

“Don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne,” he said. “Formula One needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs Formula One.”

Wolff was more diplomatic on Friday, saying he hopes all sides could come together for the good of the sport.

“I think this as much a battle on track as much as it is a fight off track for an advantage,” he said. “It is clear the current governance and how the rules are being made is not very functional. There’s too much different opinions and agendas on the table and we need to sort it for 2021 for the best interest of the sport.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed there are too many competing agendas, suggesting that the FIA-Formula One’s governing body-and Liberty Media come together to decide on a set of regulations and financial framework for the next contract and the teams can then decide if they want to accept it or not.

“Trying to get a consensus between teams that have varying objectives, different set-ups, is going to be impossible,” he said. “It’s history repeating itself. It happens every five or six years, every time the Concorde Agreement comes up for renewal.”

Tempers also flared during Friday’s media conference over another issue of contention between the teams – Ferrari’s recent hiring of FIA’s ex-safety director, Laurent Mekies.

Horner believes Ferrari broke an agreement among teams at a recent meeting to institute a 12-month waiting period for any former employee of FIA or FOM (Formula One Management) to be able to start working for one of F1’s teams. The concern is that former FIA staff who go to work for a specific team could share secrets from other teams.

“Certain teams were pushing for that period to be three years, but in the end it was agreed upon being 12 months,” he said. “It almost makes those meetings pointless if we can’t agree on something and action it.”

Arrivabene defended Ferrari’s move, saying Mekies would not join its team until after a six-month “gardening leave” period.

“There is nothing wrong with that because we were absolutely respecting the local law, the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired,” he said.