Japanese Grand Prix: title-seeking Max Verstappen fastest in final practice | Formula 1 news

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Max Verstappen fastest in last Japanese Grand Prix practice©TUSEN

Runaway championship leader Max Verstappen went fastest in Saturday’s final practice session before the Japanese Grand Prix as he seeks his second consecutive world title this weekend at Suzuka. The Red Bull driver raced around the circuit in dry conditions with a fastest lap of 1 minute and 30.671 seconds, 0.294 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. Verstappen can take the title on Sunday if he wins the race with the fastest lap, whatever his rivals do.

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The Dutchman also retains his crown if he wins and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, his nearest challenger, is third or lower.

Continued rain put a damper on Friday’s practice, with Verstappen being pushed back to third in the second session by the Mercedes pair of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

But he made his presence felt in Saturday’s final practice session when he switched to soft tires late in the session to take the fastest lap.

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Sainz followed him with a fastest time of 1min 30.965sec, ahead of Ferrari teammate Leclerc at 1min 30.980.

Dry conditions are expected to continue for qualifying later on Saturday, but some showers are forecast for Sunday.

Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who was fastest in practice one, was fourth.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was fifth ahead of Russell, who nearly crashed into the back of Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly late in the session.

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Haas driver Mick Schumacher took part in final practice after missing Friday’s second session following an earlier crash that destroyed his chassis.

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