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Lando Norris joins Carlin in Formula 2 for 2018 season

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McLaren youngster Lando Norris will move into Formula 2 for the 2018 season with Carlin, continuing his long-running partnership with the British team.

Norris, 18, won the FIA European Formula 3 title in 2017 as a rookie with Carlin in a competitive field, before signing off from the category with a podium finish in the Macau Grand Prix last weekend.

Norris was confirmed as McLaren’s official reserve and test driver in Formula 1 for 2018 earlier this month after an impressive test showing in July, and will balance these duties with a full-season F2 campaign.

Norris made his F2 debut in Abu Dhabi on Saturday with Campos in order to gain more experience in the series ahead of a full-time move for 2018, which was confirmed on Sunday.

“I’m going into 2018 unquestionably aiming to achieve more success by winning races. But 2018 will also be a big learning year,” Norris said.

“Getting experience of the increased power, enhanced aerodynamics, the [Pirelli] tires, the mandatory pit-stops and competing at new tracks like Bahrain, Baku and Sochi.

“It’s an educational year, I’ll be new to Formula 2 while Carlin is returning after a season out of the category. I’ll also be up against some very experienced F2 drivers. I’m hopeful it will work to our advantage that 2018 sees a newly designed [Dallara] car being raced for the first time since 2011.

“It’ll be my fourth year competing with Carlin. Trevor heads up a great operation at Carlin and I feel part of the ‘family’ there. It’s a friendly environment and one in which I feel very comfortable in.”

Norris will partner Sergio Sette Camara at Carlin next season, with the Brazilian also being confirmed by the team in Sunday’s announcement.

Carlin will return to F2 for 2018 after one season away, having last raced in the category when it was known as GP2 before being rebranded for this year.

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

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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.