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Stroll gets first Q3 berth in China, felt he could have gone quicker

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Formula 1 rookie Lance Stroll may have reached the final stage of qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday, but the Canadian felt he could have gone even quicker on his lap that was good enough for P10 on the grid.

Stroll, 18, made his debut for Williams in Australia, and endured a tough weekend that saw him crash out in practice and start last before retiring due to a brake issue.

Stroll appeared more at ease behind the wheel of the Williams FW40 during qualifying in China, finishing fifth in Q1 before making it all the way to the final stage, ultimately finishing 10th. Stroll’s fastest lap of qualifying actually came in Q1, going over two-tenths slower in Q3.

“The first run in Q1 wasn’t good. I was just getting into it and didn’t deliver the lap I knew I could deliver. On the second set of tires, I just kind of calmed down and it was an amazing lap; I was really happy with the car,” Stroll said.

“Then moving on to Q2, we had a good session. To get into Q3 the time was a tenth slower than my Q1 lap, but I knew it was good enough. Since I had used two sets in Q1, I only had one for Q3, so I just went for it.

“It wasn’t a good lap, but my goal was to get into Q3. Tomorrow there is a long race ahead of us, so even though Q3 wasn’t as good as I think it could have been I am still very happy with the overall qualifying.”

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

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.