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WEC: Aston Martin Racing upgrades GTE car for 2016

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Aston Martin Racing will introduce a new range of GT racing cars for the 2016 season including an updated Vantage for the FIA World Endurance Championship.

In a statement issued on Friday, AMR unveiled its new car that comes into line with the updated regulations for the GTE classes in the WEC in 2016.

“The new Vantage GTE, which is used by the Aston Martin Racing works team in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), has been redesigned for the new 2016 GTE regulations,” the team said. “The car is currently undergoing its 2016 Balance of Performance (BOP) test with the FIA in France.

“The new 2016 GTE regulations allow for significant changes to the car’s aerodynamics to increase downforce and reduce lap times. The most striking of these is the ability to fit an extended rear diffuser, which can now protrude 100mm beyond the rear of the car.

“The rear wing can also be extended to the same distance. At the front, the splitter has been redesigned to improve airflow under the car, to optimise the new diffuser.”

AMR technical director Dan Sayers explained the changes to the Vantage for 2016, saying: “The FIA wants to increase the performance gap between GTE and GT3 and by focusing primarily on the underfloor aero, it means the cars still retain the identity of the road car.

“Also the focus on aero, rather than engine or mechanical changes, also means we avoid the need for extensive and costly endurance testing.”

AMR also decided to take advantage of the regulation change in GTE to update the GT3 and GT4 Vantage, allowing for greater integration within its racing programme.

“We have also taken the opportunity to increase the commonality of parts across the range, taking parts proven in WEC and Le Mans on the GTE and using them in the GT3, and likewise with components from the GT3 for the GT4,” Sayers said.

“Not only will this improve our customer cars, but it should also allow us to pass on cost savings too.”

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.