McLaren/LAT

Lando Norris to make Formula 2 debut in Abu Dhabi

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McLaren youngster Lando Norris will make his Formula 2 debut in Abu Dhabi at the end of this month ahead of a possible full-time move into the series for 2018.

Norris, 17, won the FIA European Formula 3 title in his rookie year in 2017, as well as enjoying an impressive maiden Formula 1 test with McLaren in Hungary.

The Briton will take part in the Pirelli tire test in Brazil over the next two days for McLaren before entering the Macau Grand Prix at the weekend, with a final outing in Abu Dhabi following one week later.

Norris will race with the Campos team in the double-header round at the Yas Marina Circuit, as confirmed by on Monday morning.

“Having won the FIA Formula 3 European Championship at my first attempt this year, I will either step up to Formula 2 or Super Formula in 2018 towards my goal of one day racing in Formula 1,” Norris said.

“To get the opportunity to contest the last two races of this year’s F2 season is therefore a bonus whichever category I ultimately chose.

“It’ll be the first time I’ve ever competed in a race that includes a compulsory pit-stop and so this will also be a new experience for me.

“I’ll be signing off from F3 this weekend and having won the Euro F3 title at my first attempt this year, it would be great to go back to Macau and win – it would be an awesome end to what’s already been an amazing year.

“But it’ll be tough as in addition to the high-class field and the nature of the uncompromising track, I’m missing practice which isn’t ideal but Macau is a race I really want to go back and do with the Carlin guys – even with that disadvantage.”

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.