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Verstappen completes Mexican practice clean sweep

Max Verstappen tops final practice ahead of his bid to become F1’s youngest ever pole sitter in Mexico © AFP / PEDRO PARDO

MEXICO CITY, Mexico, Oct 27Max Verstappen completed a clean sweep of all three practice sessions for the Mexican Grand Prix on Saturday when he topped the times for Red Bull in the morning’s final runout.

The 21-year-old Dutchman, who is bidding to become the youngest pole sitter in the sport’s history, was fastest with a best lap in one minute and 16.284 seconds, outpacing championship leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes by two-tenths of a second.

Hamilton, who can clinch his fifth drivers’ title on Sunday if he outscores Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by five points, or if Vettel fails to win, showed much improved form in the cooler, but damp conditions after struggling to seventh on Friday.

Vettel was third-fastest, two-hundredths of a second behind Hamilton, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull and Kimi Raikkonen, victorious in Texas last weekend, fifth in the second Ferrari.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was forced to pull up after a hydraulics failure, leaving his team facing a stressful two hours to repair and prepare his car for qualifying.

Charles Leclerc was sixth for Sauber ahead of Carlos Sainz of Renault, Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso, Marcus Ericsson of Sauber and Nico Hulkenberg in the second Renault.

Bottas ended up 19th ahead of Kevin Magnussen of Haas who did not clock a lap time because his car required an intercooler change.

Gasly will start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid following an engine and gearbox change.