Verstappen growing in confidence during testing

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Max Verstappen has revealed that he is feeling increasingly confident and comfortable behind the wheel of the Toro Rosso STR10 ahead of his full F1 debut at next month’s Australian Grand Prix.

Verstappen, 17, is set to become the youngest driver in the history of F1 to start a race, smashing the existing record held by former Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari.

His move into F1 after just one year in single seaters sparked concern in the sport’s community, prompting a raft of new requirements to race from the FIA.

As of 2016, drivers will have to be at least 18 years of age when making their debut and hold a valid driver’s license in their home country.

In Barcelona today though, Verstappen enjoyed a very successful day, finishing second on the timesheets after leading for most of the day and completing 129 laps.

“A good session and the first time I’ve done over a hundred laps in a single day,” Verstappen said. “We got through a lot of items on the job sheet, with some faster runs in the morning. The car felt really good and it seems we are improving the car step by step.

“Compared to after the first test in Jerez, I feel more confident and more comfortable with the car, as I start to learn about every aspect of the job. Now, I’m really looking forward to seeing what the engineers can come up with for the final test here next week.”

Verstappen’s day came to an early end due to a clutch problem, forcing him to park his car up at the side of the track with 20 minutes remaining in the day.

“He had plenty of pit stop practice and that’s what caused him to stop just before the end of the day, as the clutch had had enough,” Toro Rosso chief race engineer Phil Charles explained. “It was a case of having worn the car out with all that work rather than a technical problem.”

Carlos Sainz Jr. will take up the reins of the STR10 for the final day of the second pre-season test in Barcelona tomorrow.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III