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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.

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Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.