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Sainz: Joining Red Bull Racing ‘my one and only target’

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Carlos Sainz Jr. says moving up to Red Bull’s senior Formula 1 team remains his “one and only target” despite recently suggesting he could leave the energy drink giant’s driver program for 2018.

Sainz caused a stir over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend when he said a fourth year with Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s B-team, was “unlikely” in 2018, only for program bosses Christian Horner and Helmut Marko to stress he remained under contract.

Sainz moved to clear up the comments, re-affirming his commitment to Red Bull and making peace with his bosses.

“I have my opinion and I said it in that very moment. Maybe I could have used a different wording to put it,” Sainz told the official F1 website.

“It is not something that I enjoyed, seeing Helmut Marko and Christian Horner going against me, but it sometimes happens in a Formula 1 career. But it should be over, so turn the page.

“From my side there is nothing else than sheer ambition. And sometimes in the heat of ambition you say things. But that is me! I do have targets and objectives.”

Sainz stressed that his goal is still to race for Red Bull’s senior team one day, despite both of its seats currently being locked down by Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

“It is my one and only target to be a Red Bull driver in the future. That is what I want, and that is what I have said a hundred times before,” Sainz said.

“And if one answer said in the heat of the moment is spinning out of control, that is just ‘modern times’.”

Hamilton tops second Abu Dhabi F1 practice with new track record

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Lewis Hamilton swept to the top of the timesheets in second Formula 1 practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday evening, beating Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by one-tenth of a second.

Hamilton trailed Vettel through the daytime-run opening practice session, but managed to strike back by recording a new track record at the Yas Marina Circuit for Mercedes.

Hamilton recorded a fastest lap time of 1:37.877 to finish one-tenth of a second clear of Vettel at the checkered flag, appearing to have an edge across a single lap on the ultra-soft tire.

Red Bull threw its hat into the ring as a possible rival for pole through Daniel Ricciardo, who finished the session third-fastest, three-tenths of a second back from Hamilton at the head of the field.

Kimi Raikkonen ended FP2 in fourth place in the sister Ferrari, finishing within half a second of Hamilton, and managed to edge out fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who was a further two-tenths back in P5.

Max Verstappen failed to get in a quick flying lap during FP2, ending the session one second down in P6 for Red Bull.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon’s tight intra-team fight at Force India continued through FP2 as the pair were separated by just 0.01 seconds, taking seventh and eighth respectively to finish as the leading midfield drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 for Renault and McLaren, with Felipe Massa following in 11th for Williams on his final Friday appearance in F1.

Massa was fortunate to avoid an accident with Ricciardo during the final 15 minutes of the session after a mix up at the hairpin when the Brazilian tried to get a wider line for the back straight.

Running in Abu Dhabi continues with final practice at Yas Marina on Saturday morning from 5am ET on the NBC Sports app, followed by qualifying at 8am ET on NBCSN.