Home boy Verstappen quickest in final practice for Dutch GP

·1-min read
Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen had a rousing reception from fans during practice for his home grand Prix at Zandvoort (AFP/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD)

Home favourite Max Verstappen was in flying form on Saturday, setting the fastest time in the final practice at Zandvoort, ahead of qualifying for this weekend's Dutch Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver's time of 1min 9.623sec was half a second faster than second-best Valtteri Bottas whose Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was third in 1:10.417.

Verstappen earlier escaped sanction after being summoned to explain to the stewards why he overtook Lance Stroll's Aston Martin during Friday's second practice while red flags were flying after Hamilton's Mercedes had ground to a halt on the track.

The Dutchman, who is just three points behind Hamilton in the championship standings, escaped a grid penalty with the stewards concluding that he "took every reasonable action to comply with rules".

Stewards said that Verstappen, who was travelling at 260km/h when the red light was signalled, immediately braked but his "momentum carried him past Stroll" who was doing 110km/h.

Verstappen's Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez was fourth followed by an impressive Fernando Alonso in the Alpine and McLaren's Lando Norris.

The Ferraris, which had dominated Friday's second session, lost their way as Carlos Sainz crashed heavily at the banked Hugenholtz corner while Charles Leclerc only managed ninth fastest.

Robert Kubica, a late replacement for Kimi Raikkonen, who misses the race weekend after testing positive for Covid-19, was 19th in his Alfa Romeo.

Qualifying starts at 1300 GMT.

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