Rennsport-Verstappen completes training tour in Saudi Arabia
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(Reuters) – Formula One world champion Max Verstappen completed a dominant hat-trick with fastest times in practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Saturday.
The Red Bull driver, winner of the opening race in Bahrain, was fastest in both sessions on Friday and finished the final practice session at Jeddah’s Corniche street circuit again at the top of the timesheets.
Mexico team-mate Sergio Perez was second fastest but a whopping 0.613s slower than Verstappen’s best time of a minute 28.485 on the soft tyres.
Even on the hard tyres, Verstappen was impressively quick.
Aston Martin was again best of the rest with Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll in third and fourth, but 0.998 between the Spaniard and Verstappen.
Aside from Perez, Alonso was the only driver within a second of Verstappen.
Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was fifth fastest for Mercedes, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who has a 10-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race and left late to set a correct time.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was seventh and Australian rookie teammate Oscar Piastri eighth, just 0.008s behind. French driver Pierre Gasly was ninth, 0.003s slower than Piastri, for Renault’s Alpine company.
Verstappen apologized after taking his foot off the accelerator on the track, forcing Norris, who quickly appeared behind him, to dodge around him.
“It’s dangerous what these guys are doing. They have to use the radio or something. It could have been a massive crash,” Norris said.
Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri’s Dutch rookie, missed the last session as his team changed his car’s drive unit.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)