Max Verstappen fastest in final Japanese Grand Prix practice© AFP
Runaway championship leader Max Verstappen went quickest in Saturday’s final practice for the Japanese Grand Prix as he attempts to clinch his second straight world title this weekend in Suzuka. The Red Bull driver blazed round the track in dry conditions with a fastest lap of 1min 30.671sec, 0.294sec clear of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz. Verstappen can clinch the title on Sunday if he wins the race with the fastest lap, no matter what his rivals do.
The Dutchman will also retain his crown if he wins and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, his nearest challenger, is third or lower.
Steady rain put the dampeners on Friday’s practice, with Verstappen pushed back into third in the second session by Mercedes pair George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
But he made his presence felt in Saturday’s final practice, changing to soft tyres late in the session to reel off the fastest lap.
Sainz followed him with a quickest time of 1min 30.965sec, ahead of Ferrari teammate Leclerc on 1min 30.980.
The dry conditions are expected to continue for qualifying later Saturday but some showers are forecast for Sunday.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who was quickest in the first practice, was fourth.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was fifth ahead of Russell, who almost crashed into the back of Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly late in the session.
Haas driver Mick Schumacher took part in the final practice after missing Friday’s second session following an earlier crash that wrecked his chassis.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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