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Max Verstappen damages Red Bull as Dutchman finally beaten at Australian GP practice

During the latter stages of FP1, Verstappen went off his line going through the high-speed turn nine-10 chicane, bottoming out on the kerb as he avoided the gravel trap.

After the uncomfortable impact, he dialled into the team radio to swear in frustration, before adding: “I bottomed out quite hard there.”

The impact of the bottoming out was damage to the RB20’s underbody, and Verstappen’s journey off-track ultimately forced the Red Bull crew to change his floor between the end of FP1 and the start of FP2.

When Verstappen did return to the race track, there were only 35 minutes left on the clock. This wasn’t where the drama ended either as seven minutes later, the Dutchman was impeded by Zhou Guanyu at turn three while on a flying lap.

The green-flag running that Verstappen did get wasn’t perfect. The reigning world champion was bested by McLaren star Lando Norris during the first practice session of the day, and he had no answer to Charles Leclerc’s pace during FP2.

Leclerc ended the session nearly four-tenths to the good on Verstappen on the same medium-compound tyre, sending a warning shot to the Dutchman ahead of qualifying in Melbourne.

Offering his assessment, Verstappen said: “Unfortunately [it was] a little bit messy because of what happened in FP1. I went wide, damaged the floor and also the chassis. It took a little bit longer to fix that unfortunately so I lost about 20 minutes.

“I do think the turnaround was very quick, what we did as a team, so I more or less completed the programme still. [On the] long run I would have liked maybe a few more laps but with missing 20 minutes, that’s how it goes.

“I think it was alright. I think Ferrari is quick but I think from our side, there are also a few more things that we can fine-tune. So nothing crazy, nothing worrying, I think we just need to fine-tune a little bit the car.”

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