Hamilton: Mercedes F1 car feels ‘fantastically fast’ in Austria

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Lewis Hamilton was buoyed by Mercedes’ performance during Friday’s Formula 1 practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, saying the W08 car feels “fantastically fast”.

Hamilton stormed to the top of the timesheets in both FP1 and FP2 for Mercedes, posting the fastest ever lap of the Red Bull Ring in the afternoon running to finish 0.147 seconds clear of the field.

The British driver is targeting a fightback in Austria after finishing fifth last time out in Baku after his headrest came loose, and was pleased to enjoy a relatively stress-free Friday to set himself up for the rest of the weekend.

“It’s been a really good Friday with no major headaches to complain about so far,” Hamilton said. “We had to swap out a spark plug during FP2, but the guys did a great job to turn the car around and we still managed to complete our program.

“Most importantly, the car feels fantastically fast here. There’s already a nice balance and it feels good out on-track.

“This car is so quick in comparison to what we raced here last year. It’s tricky, but a proper thrill to hook up a lap.

“The team is in good spirits and we’re all up for another exciting fight with the Ferraris this weekend.”

Teammate Valtteri Bottas finished third in both sessions, and was pleased with the impact of the updates brought by the team to Austria for the race weekend.

“There’s a good feeling inside the team and the car is clearly quick here. It was great to see that the upgrades the team worked so hard to deliver for this weekend worked straight out of the box,” Bottas said.

“Aerodynamically we’ve made another step forward from Baku, which is encouraging. This track punishes you if you make a mistake, and I tested those limits, but that’s something I can learn from and build upon for the rest of the weekend.

“The balance of the car feels good and we’ll fine tune the setup some more tonight to be ready for qualifying. Ferrari are looking strong here too, so we’re expecting another interesting weekend ahead.”

NHRA: Dodge/Mopar unveils new Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car in Denver

Photos/video courtesy Dodge/Mopar
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If you’re a fan of NHRA Funny Car racing and Dodge/Mopar, you may notice something different at this weekend’s Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Denver, Colorado.

Two-time (2011 and 2014) NHRA Funny Car champ Matt Hagan – who has won the last two NHRA national events in the last four weeks – will be piloting a newly-designed 2019 Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a 10,000-horsepower Funny Car that was unveiled this morning ahead of Dodge/Mopar’s premier NHRA national event.

The new Charger SRT Hellcat succeeds the former Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, which had been in use since 2015.

“We improved on the body design,” Hagan said of the new Charger Hellcat. “It was already a great design, a great body. But now, we’re going to have a little more downforce, a little more traction on these racetracks and it will be a huge performance advantage.”

The new Hellcat includes a number of innovations, including a new front splitter to increase downforce. Just like its predecessor, the R/T, the Hellcat will go head-to-head with Chevrolet’s Camaro in the NHRA Funny Car ranks.

“We will be able to press harder with more downforce on the nose, which translates into huge amounts of downforce on the run,” Hagan said.

According to a media release, the new Hellcat features major design changes in three key areas: the front end, bodysides and burst panel placement:

* “At the front, the shape of the nose has been tweaked and a new splitter (photo), built of carbon fiber and Kevlar like the rest of the Funny Car body, has been added. The splitter substantially mimics the look and shape of the production vehicle’s splitter while generating greater downforce to help plant the Funny Car to the track.

* “Bodyside scallops have been redesigned to more closely identify with the production Hellcat while also enhancing on-track function and performance. The deeper character lines provide greater visual ties to the street version of the Hellcat, while also helping to mitigate the “body burn” common on all Funny Cars due to the close positioning of the exhaust headers.

* “The location of the burst panel on the hood has also been reworked. The panel is now centered over the top of the engine to more efficiently release energy and pressure in the event of engine issues, a common occurrence in race cars that are pushed to the razor’s edge of performance.”

Since the R/T was first introduced into the Don Schumacher Racing corps, it has gone on to 50 wins, 42 runner-up finishes and 40 No. 1 qualifiers in NHRA national events and one NHRA Funny Car World Championship (Ron Capps, 2016).

The new Charger SRT Hellcat, which can exceed 330-plus mph and covers 1,000 feet in under four seconds, is the drag strip version of the supercharged, 707-horsepower production Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.

While Hagan will drive the first Hellcat, his other three Dodge-powered DSR teammates – Capps, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. – will soon take delivery of their own versions of the car over the remaining 11 races of the 2018 season.

One day after winning two weeks ago at Norwalk, Ohio, Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables put the new Hellcat through its paces with several test runs. The results were so strong that it was decided to debut the car at Denver and run all qualifying and elimination rounds with it.

“We made four good, solid runs in testing at Norwalk,” said Hagan. “We put the body through a lot of different things and were really, really pleased with it.

“I really think it’s going to translate over to performance on the race track, and hopefully more win lights in the future.”

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