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Kimi Raikkonen leads final day of F1 testing

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Pre-season testing for the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season wrapped up on Friday, and Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen continued to show that the team has solid pace in their SF71H, with Kimi Raikkonen turning in the fastest lap of the day at 1:17.221.

McLaren F1 Team’s Fernando Alonso rebounded from a troublesome morning – his MCL33 suffered a turbo problem after one hour of running – to turn in the second fastest lap of the day.

Renault Sport F1 Team’s Carlos Sainz Jr. continued to show impressive form as testing wrapped up, turning the third fastest lap on Friday. Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and Haas F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean rounded out the top five.

Mercedes AMG Petronas again appeared to languish outside of the top five – Valtteri Bottas was sixth fastest while Lewis Hamilton came in at 11th fastest – but long runs were again the focus for the team, particularly for Hamilton, who focused his attention on long-run pace for all 97 laps he completed.

Results from Friday can be found here. With pre-season testing now concluded, the next time all 20 entries for the 2018 Formula 1 season will grace the track together will be for opening practice at the Australian Grand Prix (March 23-25).

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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.