FIA F3 Europe

McLaren junior Norris take provisional pole for Macau GP

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McLaren Formula 1 youngster Lando Norris has secured provisional pole position for the 64th running of the Macau Grand Prix Formula 3 race, finishing almost one second clear of the field in a truncated opening stage of qualifying on Thursday.

Norris, 18, entered the famous Macau race for a second time off the back of a successful title campaign in the FIA European Formula 3 championship, as well as enjoying a strong maiden F1 test with McLaren back in July.

Norris flew from Brazil to Macau earlier than planned following the cancellation of the Pirelli test at Interlagos he’d been due to feature in over safety fears, arriving in time to take part in practice.

The Briton put the hammer down in Q1 to finish nine-tenths of a second clear of Pedro Piquet at the top of the timesheets, squeezing in a late lap before a fourth red flag forced the session to come to an early end.

Norris’ fastest time of 2:11.570 was just 0.035 seconds off Antonio Felix da Costa’s qualifying record set last year, and gave him an advantage of 0.912 seconds over Piquet in second place.

Norris’ 2017 F3 title rival Maximilian Günther finished the session third-fastest for Prema Powerteam ahead of Red Bull youngster Dan Ticktum, while Joel Eriksson took P5.

Super Formula racer Yuhi Sekiguchi finished Q1 sixth-fastest, edging out Ferrari Driver Academy member Callum Ilott in P7.

Sacha Fenestraz slotted into eighth at the checkered flag, with Sergio Sette Camara and Guanyu Zhou rounding out the top 10.

The second and final stage of qualifying takes place in Macau on Friday.

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.