Verstappen pleased with testing pace, new upgrades

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Max Verstappen enjoyed yet another successful day behind the wheel of the Toro Rosso STR10 as his Formula 1 debut draws near.

The 17-year-old will become the youngest driver in the history of F1 to start a grand prix in Australia on March 15, making any extra mileage and experience that he can pick up in pre-season valuable.

Although he only finished seventh in the final standings with a fastest lap of 1:26.766, Verstappen was pleased with what he accomplished on Friday as the new upgrades on the car worked well.

“Another good day as we did a lot of laps,” Verstappen said. “From my perspective, the most important part was this afternoon’s race distance, when the pace looked very promising.

“It was my first time driving the car with the latest updates and they seemed to be working very well and I felt very comfortable with it.

“On Sunday, I get my last chance to drive before Melbourne, so it will be important to get in as many miles as possible, try to improve the car and increase our understanding of the overall package.”

Verstappen managed to complete 139 laps on Friday, but had his running cut short by an electrical problem on the car.

“We can be pleased with what we achieved today, even if we had to stop running with around an hour to go due to an electrical problem,” chief race engineer Phil Charles explained.

“In the morning, we continued the programme we began yesterday, acquiring useful data relating to the new aero package, with plenty of in and out laps. Towards the end of the morning, we did some decent running, looking at chassis work.

“Then, after the lunch break, Max set off to do a race distance, until towards the end of the run, the car stopped. Nevertheless, another day with plenty of laps to learn from.”

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.