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Verstappen shakes off freaky Friday but Leclerc still the man to beat

Verstappen shakes off freaky Friday but Leclerc still the man to beat

F1 News

Verstappen shakes off freaky Friday but Leclerc still the man to beat

Verstappen shakes off freaky Friday but Leclerc still the man to beat

Max Verstappen cast aside his freaky Friday practice session but still had to give way to Charles Leclerc at the end of practice for the Dutch Grand Prix.

The reigning F1 champion finished third quickest, 0.161secs behind Leclerc's leading time of one minute 11.612s, with Mercedes' George Russell separating the duo, just 0.066s adrift of the Monégasque.

Friday's sessions had proven to be surprisingly problematic for Red Bull, kicking off with a gearbox issue after just 10 minutes of the opening run that resulted in Verstappen's RB18 grinding to a halt on track.

The situation failed to improve in FP2, leading to Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez quickly out on track at Zandvoort for FP3, with the reigning champion setting a benchmark time.

After 14 minutes, and as the second name on the timesheet behind Perez, the 24-year-old posted a lap of 1:13.309s, 0.036s faster than the quickest lap on Friday from Leclerc.

Although complaining he had no grip after completing a single timed lap, Verstappen managed to improve on his second run to a 1:12.196s.

The suggestion for the improvement, aside from track evolution, was that on the Red Bull, in particular, they were running less rear-wing angle, so removing a degree of downforce.

As the qualifying simulation runs kicked in, we had to wait 25 minutes for Verstappen to be pushed, with Carlos Sainz becoming the first to dip below 72 seconds with a time of 1:11.971s, only for Leclerc to swiftly usurp his team-mate by a third of a second.

Even though there were 15 minutes remaining at that stage, surprisingly none of the leading drivers managed to improve, as Sainz had to settle for fourth quickest, 0.339s down, followed by Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes.

The seven-time F1 champion was unable to get in a clean lap late on and finished just over half-a-second down, with Perez 0.024s behind the Briton in sixth.

Following Friday, McLaren appeared to be a team also in the mix, but issues in the final session resulted in Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo down in 10th and 17th.

Alpine's Fernando Alonso, the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel, and even Haas' Mick Schumacher finished quicker than Norris, who was just under a second behind.

As for Ricciardo, who took to the gravel at one stage during the session, he was 1.667s off the pace, with only Alfa Romeo pair Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, and Williams' Nicholas Latifi behind him.

Dutch Grand Prix results final practice results

1. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] 1:11.632s

2. George Russell [Mercedes] +0.066s

3. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] +0.161s

4. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +0.339s

5. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +0.524s

6. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] +0.544s

7. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +0.695s

8. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +0.859s

9. Mick Schumacher [Haas] +0.926s

10. Lando Norris [McLaren] +0.959s

11. Kevin Magnussen [Haas] +0.974s

12. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +1.141s

13. Alexander Albon [Williams] +1.143s

14. Esteban Ocon Alpine +1.371s

15. Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] +1.414s

16. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] +1.624s

17. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +1.667s

18. Valtteri Bottas [Alfa Romeo] +1.727s

19. Zhou Guanyu [Alfa Romeo] +1.789s

20. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +1.993s

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