Title contenders adrift of pacesetter Bottas in Qatar

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

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Ride onboard with Valtteri Bottas as he set the new fastest time during the second practice session ahead of the Qatar GP.

Ride onboard with Valtteri Bottas as he set the new fastest time during the second practice session ahead of the Qatar GP.

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.

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Mercedes have been denied a right of review for Max Verstappen’s defence from Lewis Hamilton at the Sao Paulo GP.

Mercedes have been denied a right of review for Max Verstappen’s defence from Lewis Hamilton at the Sao Paulo GP.

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…

Driver Team Time 1) Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:23.148 2) Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +0.209 3) Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.350 4) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.422 5) Lando Norris McLaren +0.484 6) Lance Stroll Aston Martin +0.557 7) Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +0.587 8) Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.639 9) Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +0.872 10) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.885 11) Esteban Ocon Alpine +0.893 12) Fernando Alonso Alpine +0.908 13) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.947 14) Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +0.987 15) Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo +1.483 16) George Russell Williams +1.806 17) Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo +1.924 18) Nicholas Latifi Williams +2.061 19) Mick Schumacher Haas +2.427 20) Nikita Mazepin Haas No time set

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