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Michael Buffer named as pre-race announcer for United States GP

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Formula 1 has announced that iconic ring announcer Michael Buffer will host the official pre-race driver introductions for the United States Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

As part of the festivities for this year’s race at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, Buffer will feature in an extended pre-race build up that has been tweaked in the F1 sporting regulations after the FIA granted officials special dispensation to do so.

Known for his famous catchphrase “let’s get ready to rumble!”, Buffer will “be on hand to present at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin all of the Formula 1 world championship title contenders,” as per a release from F1.

“The partnership unites Formula 1 with an iconic voice that sports fans across the globe will recognize. He will build-up the excitement and anticipation by introducing the stars of the show minutes before the start of the race.”

“I’ve been involved in some of the biggest sporting events around the world and have introduced most of the greatest boxers of the modern era, and now is my time to introduce the world’s finest racing drivers,” Buffer said.

“They are the stars of the show and I want to introduce them with the energy and adrenalin they deserve before they fire up their engines and get ready to race.”

As per the release: “To accommodate this new initiative, the usual race start procedure has to begin 15 minutes earlier than usual. With the unanimous support of the teams, the FIA will apply for an exemption to the sporting regulations for this event only.”

“Having received a request from Formula 1, we have made some changes to the current Sporting Regulations for this race only, which will allow more time on the grid with the cars and drivers,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“The period leading up to the start of a Formula 1 Grand Prix is always very spectacular and we are pleased to be able to make it even more exciting for the general public watching both at and away from the track.”

F1 tests: Mercedes innovates with wheel adjustment system

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MONTMELÓ, Spain — Veteran Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time on the second day of Formula One preseason testing on Thursday, but Mercedes still garnered more attention by introducing an innovative wheel adjustment system.

On-board footage showed defending champion Lewis Hamilton pulling the steering wheel back and forth on the front straight to apparently change the angle of the front wheels on his Mercedes car.

The team stayed tight-lipped about the car’s new feature but guaranteed it was “safe” and “legal.”

“I probably won’t shed a great deal more light than what you saw on the TV but yeah we have a system in the car, it’s a novel idea,” team technical director James Allison told F1 TV. ”We’ve got a name for it, it’s called DAS, if you’re interested, and it just introduces an extra dimension for the steering, for the driver, which we hope will be useful during the year. But precisely how we use it and why we use it, that’s something we will keep to ourselves.”

Allison said governing body FIA knew in advance that the team was introducing the new system.

“It’s something we’ve been talking to them (about) for some time,” he said. “The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we’re pretty confident that it matches those requirements. I’m pleased we got it on the car, it seems to be useful, and we’ll see over the coming days how it benefits us.”

Hamilton said he was still trying to get used to the system, but praised the team for coming up with the innovation.

“I’ve only had one morning on (it, so) I don’t really have a lot to talk about with it. We’re trying to get on top of it, understand it, but safety-wise no problem today and the FIA are OK with the project.

“For me it’s really encouraging to see that my team is continuing to innovate and stay ahead of the game, and I think that’s down to the great minds in the team and so hopefully that’ll work to our benefit.”

Hamilton led the time charts on Wednesday but was only ninth-fastest on Thursday.

MORE: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas fastest in Day 1 of F1 practice
MORE: Sergio Perez fastest early on Day 2 of F1 Practice

The 40-year-old Raikkonen, who has a chance this season to break the record for most race starts in F1, was fastest with a time of 1 minute, 17.091 seconds in his Alfa Romea. He was 0.2 seconds quicker than Sergio Pérez with Racing Point. Daniel Ricciardo of Renault was third.

Raikkonen caused a red flag near the end of the afternoon session when his car stopped on the track with an apparent mechanical issue. The Finnish driver had spun earlier in the session, as did Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, Romain Grosjean of Haas and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso.

Grosjean had the most laps among the 13 drivers who went to the track on Thursday, with 158.

Bottas was the slowest driver of the day, while Sebastian Vettel was sixth-fastest with Ferrari.

Pérez had set the quickest time in the morning session. The Mexican driver had been third fastest on Wednesday, behind Hamilton and Bottas.

Drivers will be back on the track on Friday to close out the first week of testing. Teams will have another three days to test next week.

Preseason testing has been reduced from eight to six days to help compensate for the record 22 races on the calendar, including a new Vietnam Grand Prix and the return of the Dutch GP. Midseason testing also has been eliminated.

The season opens on March 15 at the Australian GP.

The Barcelona-Catalunya track will host the Spanish GP on May 10.