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Verstappen gets back on track ahead of Japanese GP qualifying
9/23/2023 10:26:00 PM
agencies
JAPAN, Sept 23: Max Verstappen laid down a marker with the fastest times in both practice sessions for the Japanese Grand Prix on Friday, as he looks to put one hand on his third-straight Formula One title.
Red Bull's Verstappen put down a lap of 1min 30.688sec to finish 0.320sec quicker than second-placed Charles Leclerc of Ferrari in the second practice.
Verstappen, who leads teammate and nearest rival Sergio Perez by 151 points in the championship standings, cannot clinch the title on Sunday but a favourable result can set him up to seal the deal at the Qatar Grand Prix next month.
The Dutchman is looking to bounce back from a disappointing fifth-place finish at last weekend's Singapore Grand Prix that ended his record streak of 10-straight wins.
He said his car was "enjoyable to drive again".
"We had a strong day on short runs, long runs," said Verstappen.
"There's a lot of degradation on this track so it will be quite tough on tyres in the race, but so far it's a good start to the weekend."
Verstappen made his intentions clear from the start of the day, finishing the first practice quickest ahead of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and McLaren's Lando Norris. And there was no let-up in the second session. He briefly ceded top spot to Leclerc before switching to fresh tyres and reclaiming first place.
Norris had the third-fastest time with 1min 31.152sec.
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