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Verstappen targets breakthrough F1 podium in 2016

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Max Verstappen has set his sights on a breakthrough podium finish in Formula 1 next season after ending 2015 as the series’ top rookie.

Verstappen made his grand prix debut at the age of 17 in Australia, but quickly proved his youth was not a sign of ill preparation by scoring points in just his second race.

The Dutchman went on to finish the year 12th in the drivers’ championship, recording two fourth-place finishes in Hungary and the USA.

With his place on the grid now confirmed after Toro Rosso secured an engine deal for 2016, Verstappen has now firmly set his sights on an improved sophomore campaign and hopes to score his first podium finish.

“I want to do better than this year in every way,” Verstappen told his official website.

“I want to qualify better, score more points and finish higher. I’m raising the bar a lot so I’m aiming for double the amount of points and a podium.

“As a driver you always want to learn, but you also want to show your speed. I think that I managed to find the right balance, but you can always improve, in every area and it’s never done.

“I can still develop as a driver as well as physically but experience is the most important. The latter builds up over time but then it’s a case of using it.”

Verstappen was the biggest winner at the FIA’s end of season gala in Paris on Friday night, taking home the Rookie, Personality and Action of the Year awards.

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.