Red Bull’s sizzling start continues as world champion Max Verstappen sets track record, but McLaren and Aussie Oscar Piastri continue to struggle at Australian Grand Prix
- Red Bull are favourites at Albert Park
- Verstappen’s record came in rainy conditions
- Piastri continues to battle at McLaren
Red Bull’s reigning world champion Max Verstappen has set a track record in practice to confirm his favouritism for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.
Verstappen posted a sizzling fastest lap of one minute 17.565 seconds in Saturday’s third and final practice session at the Albert Park circuit.
The Dutchman’s time eclipses the previous benchmark of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc of 1:17.868, set when claimed pole position in last year’s qualifying.
Australia’s Oscar Piastri (1:18.713) was 14th quickest in the last practice before the qualifying session starts at 4pm AEDT.
Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso (1:17.727) was second-fastest with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon (1:17.938) next best.
Reigning world champion and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen broke the track record at Albert Park in rainy conditions
Verstappen and the Red Bull team are the hot favourites at the Australian Grand Prix to be held in Melbourne on Sunday
Verstappen won the season-opening grand prix in Bahrain ahead of teammate Sergio Perez and finished second behind Perez in the next race in Saudi Arabia.
But despite Red Bull’s dominant one-two finishes, team principal Christian Horner is sounding a warning in Melbourne.
‘It’s a fantastic starting point to the season … but we’re conscious that it’s a very long season, there’s still 21 races to go,’ Horner said.
‘And we’re conscious that big updates are coming from others in coming weeks as we head back to Europe.
‘So there is still a lot to do and an awfully long way to go … I have always said it’s going to take three or four races to get a real pattern as to what is the actual form-book for the season.’
Oscar Piastri greets fans on the Melbourne Walk prior to final practice session at Albert Park
Melbourne-born Piastri, making his home-town debut, on Friday was 12th fastest of the 20 drivers in the opening practice.
On Saturday, the 21-year-old completed 21 laps in a wet second session.
But his McLaren teammate Lando Norris struggled, recording the slowest time of any driver – 1:19.146 – and completing only a dozen laps, the fewest of any car in the practice session.
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