Verstappen sets practice marker ahead of Bahrain GP qualifying


ax Verstappen made it a clean sweep in practice sessions ahead of the F1 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Red Bull set the pace in pre-season testing and Verstappen – who will now be hunting only his fourth career pole position this weekend – was fastest in all three practice sessions at the Sakhir International Circuit across Friday and Saturday.

The Dutchman finished more than seven-tenths clear of Lewis Hamilton to lay down an ominous marker ahead of qualifying later on Saturday.

Verstappen will head into the battle for pole having finished fastest in all three runnings at the inaugural round of the new Formula One season.

Hamilton is this year bidding to win an eighth world championship, but Red Bull have raced out of the blocks with Verstappen building on the team’s strong pre-season campaign.

F1 preview: A lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix

Indeed, Hamilton was the only driver to finish within one second of Verstappen in the searing 37 degree heat, with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly third and Valtteri Bottas fourth.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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