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F1 LIVE: Verstappen escapes penalty in Hamilton clash as Bottas tops Qatar Grand Prix practice

The Independent
The Independent
 2021-11-19

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Formula One stewards rejected on Friday a request by Mercedes to review their Sao Paulo Grand Prix decision not to penalise Red Bull’s championship leader Max Verstappen for a race incident with Lewis Hamilton. The stewards ruled ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix that while new and relevant video evidence had emerged, it was not significant.

Verstappen could have been hit with either a time penalty for his race in Sao Paulo, with five seconds enough to knock him down to third and further reduce the gap to Hamilton, which is currently 14 points in the drivers’ standings, or else a grid penalty for the upcoming race in Qatar, but avoided any sanction.

Verstappen then lapped fastest in first practice for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix at the Losail circuit on Friday. The Dutch 24-year-old produced a quickest time of one minute 23.723 seconds in a dusty but uneventful session. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who also has a Honda engine, was second and 0.437 slower with a late quick run. Valtteri Bottas was third on the timesheets, 0.471 off Verstappen’s pace, for Mercedes with Hamilton fourth. Hamilton was 0.786 slower than his title rival, and also ran wide over kerbs at turn 14 before pitting with a damaged front wing.

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