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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.

Top Fuel driver Austin Prock earns 2019 NHRA top rookie honors

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Having just completed a promising first year in NHRA Top Fuel competition, Austin Prock is on the road to even greater drag racing success in his career.

That’s why it’s not surprising that Prock was named the winner of the 2019 Auto Club Road to the Future Award during Monday night’s annual NHRA Awards dinner at the Ray Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.

The Road to the Future Award is NHRA’s version of Rookie of the Year, and Prock was among the brightest young stars on the circuit this past season, including winning his first national event at the Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in suburban Seattle, the 16th race on the 24-race schedule.

What made that first win all the more sweeter is it came at the same event that his boss, legendary 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, captured his milestone 150th career win.

One month ago, Prock set a personal best run of 3.688 seconds at 334.40 mph over veteran driver Doug Kalitta in the first round of eliminations at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals three weeks ago in Ennis, Texas (suburban Dallas).

“I am proud of the season this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team put together,” Prock said in a media release. “My guys worked their asses off all season long to give me the opportunity to win the Auto Club Road the Future Award. I couldn’t have done it without them.

“I would have never been here without John Force and Robert Hight (president of John Force Racing). They gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and I owe the world to them. I hope I made them proud.”

Prock became only the 10th rookie in the history of the NHRA pro ranks to both win a race in their first season and also go on to win the Road to the Future award. He also was the 13th rookie in the sport’s history to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six race playoffs.

Prock becomes the sixth John Force Racing driver to earn the Road to the Future Award, joining Tony Pedregon (1996), Hight (2005), Ashley Force-Hood (2007), Mike Neff (2008), Courtney Force (2012) and Brittany Force (2013).

Austin Prock is the son of veteran crew chief Jimmy Prock, who tuned Hight to his third career NHRA Funny Car championship this past Sunday.

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