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Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

Verstappen sets pace in final F1 practice

by September 16, 2017 General
AFP / Roslan RAHMANRed Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the third practice session of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore on September 16, 2017

Teenager Max Verstappen led the timings ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in final practice as Red Bull continued to show pace at the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday.

The 19-year-old Verstappen, second fastest on Friday behind his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, clocked 1min 41.829sec late in the dusk session on the downtown Marina Bay lay-out.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, the world championship leader, was third quickest, 14-hundredths off the pace, ahead of McLaren pair Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.

Ricciardo, who timed sixth, had trouble late in the session when he hit a barrier and was called back into the pits — one of a number of drivers to make contact on the closely confined street circuit.

Vettel sent chips of paint flying as he brushed a wall en route to a 1:43.237, setting the early pace, before Hamilton timed 1.44.230 for temporary second.

Kimi Raikkonen and Lance Stroll of Williams also kissed the barriers before Verstappen went top with 1:42.249 halfway through the hour-long session.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson lost his rear end on a right-hander and ploughed backwards into a wall, forcing a temporary halt as marshalls cleared debris from the track.

Vettel came out flying after the resumption, going top ahead of the two Red Bulls, before Verstappen clocked his 1:41.829 to lead the timesheets with six minutes to go.

But suddenly there were problems for the Red Bulls as Ricciardo hit a barrier and had to limp back to the pits, and Verstappen also had to box with a gears problem.

However, Verstappen came back out with two minutes left in the session, indicating no serious issues ahead of qualifying, which starts at 1200 GMT.

Qualifying has often been crucial in Singapore, where seven of the nine races so far have been won by the driver who started from pole positions.

Hamilton — who has a world-record 69 pole positions — leads the standings by just three points from Vettel, who has won four times in Singapore and is considered the man to beat.