Verstappen fastest in final U.S. GP practice

Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:30pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Dutch teenager Max Verstappen topped the timesheets as Red Bull lapped fastest in final practice for the U.S. Formula One Grand Prix on Saturday.

The 18-year-old produced a best effort of one minute 36.766 seconds, with Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo 0.266 slower.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was third with triple world champion Lewis Hamilton fourth and title rival team mate and overall leader Nico Rosberg fifth for Mercedes.

Rosberg, who leads Hamilton by 33 points with four races remaining, and his team mate are the race favorites and sole championship contenders but Red Bull can play a big part in deciding the outcome.

Verstappen and Ricciardo are the only winners apart from the Mercedes pairing this season and have been getting closer to the dominant duo in recent weeks.

Hamilton needs to win all four races to reduce the gap to Rosberg but would welcome either or both of the Red Bulls taking points off his German team mate. Equally, they can help Rosberg by making life hard for the Briton.

The times will not have concerned Mercedes too much, with Red Bull using supersoft tires to set the fastest times before Mercedes made the switch but were caught in traffic that prevented them showing their true pace.

More of a concern was the need for Mercedes to break a curfew on Friday night, with mechanics working late to make a precautionary change to the fuel system on Hamilton's car.   Continued...

Oct 21, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen (33) of Netherlands during practice for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports