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Red Bull F1 hoping for more rain in Malaysia after pacing FP1

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Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen finished Friday’s Formula 1 practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix hoping for rain through the remainder of the weekend after mixed conditions through FP1 and FP2.

Heavy rain resulted in first practice being delayed by 30 minutes before the drivers were allowed out on-track, with Verstappen and Ricciardo sweeping to a one-two finish in the damp conditions.

A bone-dry FP2 saw Ferrari come to the fore, with Ricciardo and Verstappen settling for P3 and P4 respectively, leaving them eager for more rain after getting an idea of what could be possible in a wet race.

“We were both looking pretty good in the wetter conditions and on the intermediates we were at the pace and significantly quicker than everyone else, which we’ll take,” Ricciardo said.

“This afternoon we weren’t that competitive looking at Ferrari, but it looked like Mercedes struggled as well. If we can focus on ourselves we can still improve; on the short runs we needed to improve the front grip and on the long runs we needed to improve the rear, so we have just got to find a better compromise with the set-up. Just looking after that I think will be the key on Sunday.

“I think if we can find half a second somewhere then we’ll be in the fight, we have still got a bit of work to do but we were OK.

“If we get some light drizzle across the weekend then we’ll be looking pretty good; I won’t complain if qualifying and the race is wet!”

Verstappen echoed his teammate’s comments: “I think today was positive. Of course, compared to Ferrari it can be better but it’s not a bad performance and we still end the day ahead of Mercedes.

“For sure tomorrow it will be better but we still need to improve to beat Ferrari. I missed out on doing a long run this afternoon because of the red flag, so I will see with Daniel how he is feeling and then we will decide what we can do tomorrow to improve the car.

“Tomorrow I’m hoping for rain, not too much that we aren’t driving, but a little bit would make things interesting.”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.