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Max Verstappen tops last practice for Netherlands GP, Valtteri Bottas 2nd

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers
Image Source : AP

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car during the second free practice ahead of Sunday’s Formula One Dutch Grand Prix at the Zandvoort racetrack, Netherlands, Friday, Sept. 3

Dutch driver Max Verstappen had the fastest time ahead of the two Mercedes cars in the third and final practice session for the Netherlands Grand Prix ahead of qualifying later Saturday.

The orange-clad home crowd roared as the Red Bull star finished an impressive .56 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas and .79 quicker than Lewis Hamilton, the defending Formula One champion and current leader this season.

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Ferrari faced a race against the clock to repair Carlos Sainz Jr.’s car in time for qualifying after he slid sideways off the Zandvoort track on the high-speed Turn 3 and into the crash barriers about 20 minutes into the session.

“I’m OK,” he said on team radio. “No idea what happened.”

The session saw McLaren driver Lando Norris and Haas driver Mick Schumacher go off into the gravel, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took evasive action late on when he swerved sharply left to avoid two cars in front of him.

Hamilton looks for a record-extending 102nd career pole while Verstappen seeks his 10th. This season he leads Hamilton 6-3 for poles and 6-4 for wins, but Hamilton is three points ahead in the standings.

The race returned to the Netherlands for the first time since 1985, when Zandvoort last hosted the race.

About 65,000 fans packed into stands that were at 67% capacity because of coronavirus restrictions. All had to show a corona pass to get in.

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