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F1: Raikkonen on pole as Ferrari lock-out front row for Italian Grand Prix

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Ferrari brought the home crowd to their feet during qualifying for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, with Kimi Raikkonen taking the pole and Sebastian Vettel flanking him in second, giving Ferrari a front row lock-out in their home race.

The record-setting qualifying saw Raikkonen, Vettel, and Lewis Hamilton set and reset lap records on their first timed laps in Q3, setting the stage for a dramatic closing minutes.

Critically, Raikkonen was the last on the road of the trio, meaning he was in position to get a tow from Vettel and Hamilton.

While Hamilton improved his lap time in hopes of consolidating the pole, Vettel bettered him only a few seconds later, with Raikkonen then bettering the both of them immediately after.

The pole is Raikkonen’s first of the 2018 season, and his first since the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.

Behind the Ferrari duo came the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Max Verstappen rounded out the top five.

Romain Grosjean, Carlos Sainz Jr., and Esteban Ocon take up sixth, seventh and eighth, while Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll put in stellar performances to end up ninth and tenth.

Of note: Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg advanced to Q2, but will start at the back of the grid due to grid penalties for power unit changes.

Results are below.


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.