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Antonio Giovinazzi apologizes to Sauber after China qualifying crash

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Antonio Giovinazzi has apologized to his Sauber team after crashing out of Formula 1 qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday in Shanghai.

Giovinazzi made his F1 debut two weeks ago in Australia as a last-minute replacement for Pascal Wehrlein, who continued to struggle for fitness following his Race of Champions crash in January.

The Italian was one of the stand-out performers in Melbourne, almost reaching Q2 and finishing 12th in his first race for Sauber.

Giovinazzi was drafted in to replace Wehrlein again for this weekend’s race in China, and looked set to ease through to Q2 in qualifying before crashing out at the final corner, running wide at exit before careering sideways across the track and into the wall.

The shunt brought out yellow flags and ruined a number of drivers’ late qualifying laps, allowing Giovinazzi to make it through to Q2. While he could take no part in the session, Giovinazzi still qualified 15th.

“For me it was a disappointing ending to qualifying. It was all good until the last corner of my final lap,” Giovinazzi said.

“I was already in Q2 and improving my lap time, but I pushed a bit too much, touched the grass in the exit of the last corner and then lost the rear of the car.

“I apologize to the team for what happened. Tomorrow I will do my best to put in a good performance.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 1am ET on Sunday.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”