Watch the Qatar GP across the weekend only on Sky Sports F1, with Qualifying at 2pm on Saturday
Last Updated: 19/11/21 3:34pm
Max Verstappen outpaced Lewis Hamilton in second practice at the inaugural Qatar GP – but the title contenders finished third and fourth on the timesheet, with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas ahead.
The opening day of F1 running on the Losail International Circuit, a track that proved dusty but incredibly smooth, saw Red Bull and Mercedes top one session apiece against the backdrop of rumbling off-track rows between the championship rivals.
After Verstappen led the morning timesheet – and then avoided a full stewards’ investigation into his driving against Hamilton when they battled for the lead in Brazil last week – it was Bottas who took over at the top in the evening under the circuit’s floodlights.
Posting a best lap on the soft tyres of 1:23.148, Bottas’ closest rival was actually AlphaTauri’s impressive Pierre Gasly who finished second-quickest in both of Friday’s sessions.
Verstappen’s third-quickest time was 0.350s slower than Bottas, while Hamilton was a further tenth away from his team-Mercedes mate.
“I’m off, so I’m definitely not close,” admitted Hamilton, who was even further off the leading pace in P1.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Sky F1: “You could see Valtteri was looking pretty sharp out there. I think there are a few areas we can improve…but generally a reasonable day for us.”
Lando Norris posted a strong fifth-quickest time for McLaren with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll sixth.
More to follow…