Max Verstappen topped final practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of Charles Leclerc in a difficult-to-read session.

The Dutchman was just 0.096s quicker than Leclerc, though both drivers dropped time on their final soft-tire runs. Verstappen locked up at the first turn and opted to abandon the lap for a second attempt, while Leclerc said he was missing performance in the final sector.

Leclerc appeared to be closer to the limit in his Ferrari generally, having spun off the track at turn 11 as he tried to power over the curbs. The gravel trap saved him from a crash with the barriers by feet.

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Max Verstappen has lit up second practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix, putting Red Bull Racing at the top of the time sheet ahead of both Ferraris.

Verstappen, who was quickest at this track at the end of preseason testing, lowered the benchmark from earlier in the day to 1m31:936s. But he was pursued closely by Charles Leclerc, whose Ferrari was just 0.087s slower.

Leclerc’s best time was set on five-lap old tires and the fifth lap of a qualifying simulation run, suggesting that the C3 compound is holding its own in Bahrain this season. Indeed, the majority of the field completed competitive long-run simulations on the red-walled rubber in the second half of the session, with Verstappen’s race pace in particular looking strong.

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Max Verstappen enjoyed a well-deserved break as the new world champion during the off-season, but there’s clearly been no such rest for his lawyers.

Before a wheel had been turned in anger in 2022, Red Bull Racing and its new world champion announced they’re extending terms until 2028.

Reports from the Netherlands place the value of the deal at around $A75 million per year — Lewis Hamilton-tier cash for a driver almost 13 years the Briton’s junior.

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Lewis Hamilton and new world champion Max Verstappen will resume hostilities in a new season of Formula 1 later this month, but the blows from their brutal 2021 showdown are still reverberating.

Last December motorsport fans were treated to the closest finish in Formula 1 history: Hamilton and Verstappen, tied on points, in a final-lap duel to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the world championship.

A late-braking lunge on fresh tyres catapulted Verstappen down Hamilton’s inside at turn five. Shod with older rubber courtesy of a late-race safety car, the Briton was powerless to fight back, and the Dutchman became the first driver to beat Hamilton to the crown in five years.

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Max Verstappen is a Formula 1 champion at last, and though the circumstances of his triumph over Lewis Hamilton were controversial, his place in the pantheon of motorsport greats is secure.

Max Verstappen is the 2021 world champion after a chaotic and controversial single-lap dash with Lewis Hamilton to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen has beaten Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 world championship in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but Mercedes is protesting the outcome after a last-lap safety car restart turned the race on its head.

Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and sensationally claim the 2021 Formula 1 world championship.

The Dutchman had been on course for a sound defeat to Hamilton, who jumped Verstappen off the line and controlled the race, until five laps from the finish, when a safety car was deployed to clean up Nicholas Latifi’s wrecked Williams, which had come to a crashed end in the barriers at Turn 14.

Hamilton didn’t have the margin on Verstappen to make a safety stop, gifting the Dutchman a free switch to a set of softs to combat the Briton’s badly worn hard rubber.

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Max Verstappen raises a first in celebration

Max Verstappen has snatched the all-important pole position from championship rival Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen stunned championship rival Lewis Hamilton by taking a comfortable pole position for the season-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton started qualifying as the favorite after a strong series of practice sessions, whereas a lackluster Saturday practice left the Dutchman as the underdog, the Red Bull Racing car apparently off the pace.

Matters seemed to get only worse for Verstappen in Q2, when a lock-up on what should have been his race-starting set of medium tires forced him to switch to softs and what is thought to be an inferior strategy for the grand prix.

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Max Verstappen claimed top spot in first practice at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton had his best time deleted for exceeding track limits.

The Dutchman used two sets of soft-compound tires to set a time of 1m 25.009s, pipping Valtteri Bottas by 0.196s despite complaining of a right-leaning steering wheel during the first half of the session.

Lewis Hamilton had taken second spot with a fresh set of softs of his own to trail Verstappen by just 0.033s, but the time was erased for running wide exiting the last corner, dropping him to third and 0.346s short of his title rival. Sergio Perez completed the top four just 0.008s further adrift.

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You simply couldn’t write it. After 21 rounds Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are tied on points and brimming with animosity after a dynamite inaugural grand prix in Saudi Arabia, and it’s anyone’s guess who’s going to leave Abu Dhabi with the championship this weekend.

Red Bull Racing is scrambling to keep Max Verstappen’s title campaign alive against Lewis Hamilton, who’s found form just in the nick of time.

Max Verstappen led the way in Formula 1’s arrival at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit, while Lewis Hamilton endured trouble with a damaged car and a lack of power.

The title leader looked comfortable around the sandy track on his way to the fastest time, a 1m23.723s, to beat AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly by 0.437s, the Frenchman rising through the order with a late lap on softs.

Mercedes followed in third and fourth, with Valtteri Bottas 0.471s adrift and Lewis Hamilton a further 0.351s off the pace.

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A career-best drive from Lewis Hamilton not only won him the Sao Paulo Grand Prix against the odds, but it threatened to change the complexion of the final stint of the championship.

A maiden championship is within touching distance for Max Verstappen after a Mexico masterclass, and only victory in Brazil this weekend will keep Lewis Hamilton in striking distance.

Max Verstappen has dealt a blow to Lewis Hamilton’s title chances with a comfortable 16-second victory in the Mexico City Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen turned third on the grid into an easy victory at the Mexico City Grand Prix to extend his championship lead over Lewis Hamilton.

The Dutchman used the powerful slipstream on the 880-yard run from the start to the first braking zone to sweep effortlessly around the outside of polesitter Valtteri Bottas and into a lead he would relinquish only during the pit stop window.

It was a sweet start for Red Bull Racing but a disaster for Mercedes. Bottas and Hamilton had shared the front row, but Bottas’s limp defense at the first turn had him passed by his teammate and left him exposed to contact on the Turn 1 apex with Daniel Ricciardo, who had attempted to reserve the space for his McLaren.

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