Verstappen flourishes in the wet to qualify sixth in Malaysia


Max Verstappen’s incredible F1 story continued in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday as he scored the best starting position for a teenager in 54 years.

The 17-year-old made the most of wet conditions in the final stage of qualifying to finish sixth, the best result for a driver under the age of 20 since Ricardo Rodriguez started second at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s rise to F1 has been one full of controversy, with many claiming that he lacks the necessary experience to race after just one year in single seater cars.

The Dutchman may not have a valid road driving licence, but once again proved that he is more than ready for F1 with a mature performance for Toro Rosso on Saturday in Malaysia.

“I’m very happy, it was a good session this afternoon, especially Q3,” Verstappen said. “In Q1 and Q2 I wasn’t totally comfortable with the car, but we had a good end of Q2.

“I was smiling when it started to rain, because that’s what I like. I’m Dutch so I’m used to driving in the wet, even though here it’s a completely different story.

“P6 is a really a good position to start tomorrow’s race.  I’m really looking forward to it and even if we seem to struggle a bit in the longer runs, I’m not worried and hopefully we can score some points.”

Verstappen also matched the best qualifying result that his father, Jos, scored in his F1 career, and will be hoping to convert this into his first points finish in the race on Sunday.

Across the garage, Carlos Sainz Jr. was less fortunate after being caught out by the rain shower during Q2. The Spaniard was quick to admit that his 15th-place finish was a result of driver error, having made a mistake on his one and only flying lap.

“I’m disappointed with today’s result, as getting into Q3 was more than possible and we could’ve ended up with a great result,” Sainz said. “We were looking very good, very sharp, but unfortunately I made a rookie mistake at turn 14 and I locked-up when it was starting to rain, losing all chances to get through to Q3.

“If this rain hadn’t arrived, we would’ve surely been up there. But these things can happen, we need to stay positive and learn from mistakes. I look forward to making up some positions in the race tomorrow as we know that we can fight for a good result.”

The Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2:30a ET tomorrow.

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.