Max Verstappen was left fuming with Lance Stroll following second practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix after a controversial collision between their cars led to an expletive rant from the Dutchman,
In an incident packed afternoon session at the Portimao track in the Algarve, that also saw Pierre Gasly have to escape his car after it caught fire, the two drivers crashed heading into turn one with around 15 minutes of the session to run.
The Dutchman had been attempting to pass on the inside of the corner after being in the slipstream but Stroll seemed blinded as he turned in on the Red Bull star before he spun into the gravel.
Max Verstappen (right) and Lance Stroll crash as they meet at the apex of turn one
The pair collided late on during second practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix
Verstappen managed to limp back into the pits to bring his session to a halt having ranted down the radio to his team: ‘Is this guy blind? What the ****** is wrong with him?’
The incident brought a second red flag of the day just a few minutes after the first following Gasly’s fire.
The Frenchman was given a huge scare during the session when he was forced to escape his car after it caught fire seconds after his car grounded to a halt.
The Italian Grand Prix winner was touring the Portimao circuit before he was forced to come to a dramatic halt a few meters off the track.
Having parked up following a sudden loss of power, the Frenchman leapt out of AlphaTauri cockpit before trying to notify track marshalls carrying fire extinguishers that his car was in flames.
Pierre Gasly was forced to abandon his AlphaTauri during practice after it caught fire
Flames grow from out the back of Gasly’s car which brought out red flags to stop the session
Gasly beckoned for marshalls with fire extinguishers to put the flames out during second practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix
Marshalls were quick on the scene to put the fire out as the French driver looks on
As the red flags came out to stop the session, smoke bellowed from Gasly’s car before the marshalls managed to safely put out the fire, with Gasly having walked away to safety.
The late stoppages severely impacted the times from the second practice session of the day which saw Bottas retain his advantage from the morning by going quickest ahead of Verstappen and Britain’s Lando Norris.
Hamilton ended the afternoon eighth but was unable to get a clear lap on light fuel during the 90 minute session which saw the first half-an-hour dedicated for all cars to run prototype Pirelli compounds to potentially be used for the 2021 season.
Earlier in the day, Hamilton was caught off guard in first practice after finishing three tenths behind Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Lewis Hamilton ended second quickest for Mercedes in first practice for the Portuguese GP
The Brit heads into the weekend at the Portimao circuit hoping to land a record 92nd victory
After matching Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 victories last time out in Germany at the Eifel Grand Prix, the Brit heads into the weekend at the Portimao circuit hoping to eclipse the former Ferrari star’s total.
F1 has not raced in Portugal since 1996, and it is the sport’s first appearance at the track in the Algarve for a world championship race.
Max Verstappen completed the top three for Red Bull, with Charles Leclerc an impressive fourth fastest for the struggling Ferrari outfit.
Despite looming clouds, the session remained dry as drivers cautiously toured the circuit for the first time, with many complaining about a lack of grip despite the recent resurfacing of the undulating layout.
The weekend though already points towards another battle between the Mercedes duo though with Bottas finishing well over seven tenths of a second clear of third placed Verstappen.
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas (above) was quickest in the morning and the afternoon
The Finn arrives with his girlfriend cyclist Tiffany Cromwell on Friday morning
It is the sixth race in a row the Finn has gone fastest in the first session of the weekend but only at the Russian Grand Prix two races back has he managed to convert it to victory, with Hamilton winning three of the others.
Verstappen’s team-mate Alex Albon was the only other driver to get within a second of Bottas’s time of 1:18.410, with Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez, Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly completing the top 10.
Sebastian Vettel endured another miserable morning down in 11th for Ferrari nearly nine tenths off team-mate Leclerc’s time, with Britain’s Lando Norris 12th quickest.
Esteban Ocon endured mechanical difficulties for Renault, ending the session with smoke coming out his car and his team telling him not to change gears.
The Frenchman finished the morning 19th, sandwiched between the Williams duo led by George Russell.
Mercedes’ rivals were well off the pace with Max Verstappen (above) third quickest for Red Bull
Racing at Portimao for the first time, the drivers tested their limits as Charles Leclerc spins off in his Ferrari in F1’s first return to Portugal for 26 years
Daniel Ricciardo was ninth fastest for Renault during the morning session at Portimao
Hamilton meanwhile has criticised F1 bosses heading into the weekend after the appointment of Vitaly Petrov as a race steward following the former Russian driver’s recent controversial comments regarding Black Lives Matter and equal rights.
Petrov, who is making his debut as one of four stewards at this weekend’s race, said: ‘A Black Lives Matter T-shirt is superfluous, as is calling on everyone to kneel.
‘It is a personal matter for every adult. According to our traditions, a man kneels only in two cases – in a place of worship before God and when you propose to your future wife.’
The Ferrari star (left) though recovered to fourth and eight tenths down on Bottas (right)
In a session with little drama, Esteban Ocon saw his power unit smoke at the very end
Rain clouds loomed over the circuit in the Algarve but the morning session remained dry
He added: ‘What if one of the drivers comes out as gay? Will they get a rainbow flag and urge everyone else to become gay?’
Hamilton, who has led the sport’s fight for equality by calling on his fellow drivers to take a knee, hit back, saying: ‘It is a surprise to see they are hiring someone who is so vocal about things we are trying to fight against.
‘We should be including people who are with the times and sensitive to the matters that are surrounding us. So I don’t really understand what the FIA’s goal is or why he is here. It is not like they don’t have other options.’
The FIA declined to comment.