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Vettel resets track record on second-to-last day of testing

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Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel set the lap record around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Thursday, the second-to-last day of pre-season testing for the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

Vettel’s lap, at 1:17.182, was set on the new hyper-soft tire compound, and bested the day’s second fastest lap, from Haas F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen, by over one second. Scuderia Toro Rosso continued to show impressive form with Pierre Gasly turning in the third fastest lap of the day, while Renault Sport F1 Team’s Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. went fourth and fifth on the day.

Behind them, Mercedes AMG Petronas teammates Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas appeared to languish in eighth and ninth, but their fastest laps were set on the much harder medium compound tires as they spent the day focusing on long runs.

And that long-run pace could be daunting, as they were reportedly significantly quicker than their closest rivals Ferrari and Red Bull Racing over similar long runs. It remains to be seen how this will play out on race weekends, but Mercedes could easily be lurking in the background as other teams set fast individual lap times.

Results from Thursday can be found here. Pre-season testing concludes on Friday.

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Dutch Grand Prix becomes fourth Formula 1 race canceled this season

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ZANDVOORT, Netherlands — The Dutch Grand Prix became the fourth Formula One race canceled this season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, after organizers decided Thursday they didn’t want to play host to an event without spectators.

It was to be the first Dutch GP since 1985, but F1 wants to start the season with no spectators at races.

“We would like to celebrate this moment, the return of Formula 1 in Zandvoort, together with our racing fans in the Netherlands,” race director Jan Lammers said in a statement. “We ask everyone to be patient. I had to look forward to it for 35 years, so I can wait another year.”

The race in Zandvoort was set for May 3 and initially postponed. Fans who bought tickets can use them next year.

The coastal circuit has been redesigned, with some corners banked to facilitate faster racing.

The other races canceled this year were the season-opening Australian GP on March 15; the Monaco GP on May 24; and the French GP on June 28.

Another six have been postponed.

F1 organizers still hope to reschedule those and hold 15 to 18 races this season, starting in July with back-to-back races at the Austrian GP.