F1: Max Verstappen faster than Lewis Hamilton in Qatar Grand Prix Friday practice


Max Verstappen hits back in fierce title fight with Lewis Hamilton after going marginally quicker in Friday practice for the Qatar Grand Prix… but Brit’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas goes fastest at the Losail Circuit











Max Verstappen ended an explosive day in the title battle against Lewis Hamilton narrowly quicker than his rival in Friday practice at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Verstappen came into the weekend subject to a Mercedes review request regarding his defensive driving against Hamilton at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix last time out. 

But the Red Bull driver survived any reprimand following the incident where he appeared to force the Brit off the road at Interlagos.

Max Verstappen went narrowly quicker than Lewis Hamilton in Friday practice for the Qatar GP

Verstappen is looking to bounce back from the defeat by Lewis Hamilton in Brazil

Verstappen is looking to bounce back from the defeat by Lewis Hamilton in Brazil

The Dutchman then ended the day third quickest at the Losail Circuit less than a tenth quicker than fourth placed Hamilton.

However it appears Mercedes have the overall advantage in Qatar with Valtteri Bottas going quickest, two tenths faster than the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly.   

Hamilton took the chequered flag in Brazil last weekend to close the gap in the drivers’ championship to 14 points with three races remaining.

But Verstappen escaped punishment for running the current champion off the road as they duelled for first position on lap 48. 

Hamilton is sporting a new rainbow helmet for this weekend's race at the Losail circuit

Hamilton is sporting a new rainbow helmet for this weekend’s race at the Losail circuit

Hamilton was only fourth fastest in the opening and second sessions in Qatar

Hamilton was only fourth fastest in the opening and second sessions in Qatar

QATAR GP – SECOND PRACTICE 

1 Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 1:23.148

2 Gasly (Fra) AlphaTauri 1:23.357

3 Verstappen (Hol) Red Bull 1:23.498

4 Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1:23.570

5 Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:23.632

6 Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:23.705

7 Tsunoda (Jpn) AlphaTauri 1:23.735

8 Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:23.787

9 Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1:24.020

10 Sainz (Spa) Ferrari. 1:24.033

11 Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:24.041

12 Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:24.056

13 Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:24.095

14 Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:24.135

15 Raikkonen (Fin) A. Romeo 1:24.631

16 Russell (Gbr) Williams 1:24.954

17 Giovinazzi (Ita) A. Romeo 1:25.072

18 Latifi (Can) Williams 1:25.209

19 Schumacher (Ger) Haas 1:25.575

20 Mazepin (Raf) Haas NO TIME

 

Mercedes launched an appeal against the decision not to investigate the incident after onboard camera footage from Verstappen’s car had been released.

While the meeting to decide on the review started on Thursday afternoon it was still unresolved as the cars took to the track on Friday – some 20 hours later, before the FIA decided no further action would be taken just minutes after first practice concluded.

Hamilton, sporting a rainbow flag on his helmet having called on F1 and other sportspeople to speak out against human rights issues which plague countries such as Qatar, endured a difficult start to the session.

Valtteri Bottas went quickest for Mercedes under the night lights in Friday practice

Valtteri Bottas went quickest for Mercedes under the night lights in Friday practice

AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly took a surprise second in both of Friday's practice sessions

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took a surprise second in both of Friday’s practice sessions

QATAR GP – FIRST PRACTICE

1 Verstappen (Hol) Red Bull 1:23.723

2 Gasly (Fra) AlphaTauri 1:24.160

3 Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 1:24.194

4 Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1:24.509  

5 Tsunoda (Jpn) AlphaTauri 1:24.648

6 Sainz (Spa) Ferrari. 1:24.713

7 Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:24.790

8 Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:24.915

9 Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:24.972

10 Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:25.215 

11 Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:25.291

12 Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1:25.328

13 Latifi (Can) Williams 1:25.688

14 Giovinazzi (Ita) A. Romeo 1:25.757

15 Raikkonen (Fin) A. Romeo 1:25.828

16 Russell (Gbr) Williams 1:25.871

17 Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:25.905

18 Schumacher (Ger) Haas 1:26.699

19 Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:26.712

20 Mazepin (Raf) Haas 1:27.500