Home Z - Archive seriesFlorida Winter Series Verstappen quickest in practice for Florida Winter Series opener

Verstappen quickest in practice for Florida Winter Series opener

by Peter Allen

Single-seater rookie Max Verstappen posted the fastest time in four free practice sessions ahead of the first round of the Florida Winter Series at Sebring.

After topping both of the pre-event test sessions at Homestead on Wednesday, Nicholas Latifi maintained his place at the head of the field in the first of the day’s one hour sessions. The Canadian posted the quickest time of the session after 20 minutes, relegating one of the drivers he is expected to join at Prema in European F3 this season, Antonio Fuoco.

Ferrari protege Fuoco remained in second until after the chequered flag, when Ed Jones demoted him with a late effort. Tatiana Calderon was an encouraging fourth ahead of Verstappen,?Raffaele Marciello, Dennis van de Laar and Lance Stroll.

European F3 champion Marciello hit the top in second practice. The Italian, who will race in GP2 this year, moved into P1 with the first lap of the session and stayed there throughout, improving on his own benchmark several times to finish up half a second clear of karting graduate Verstappen, who would have been fastest had he threaded his personal best sectors together in one lap.

Van de Laar was another half a second behind his fellow Dutchman in third, ahead of Jones and Fuoco. Latifi was back in sixth this time, with Calderon seventh and Stroll eighth.

Latifi moved back ahead in the third session. Verstappen held first place for much of the hour, but was beaten by Latifi with just over ten minutes left on the clock remaining. Marciello took third ahead of Jones and Calderon, with van de Laar, Fuoco and Stroll completing the top eight.

In the final session, Latifi only did two out laps at the start and end of the session, setting no time. Verstappen meanwhile held top spot from eight minutes in, becoming the only driver to dip below the 2m04 mark and finishing up over a second clear of Marciello in a red-flag-disrupted session. Fuoco was third ahead of van de Laar, Calderon, Stroll and Jones.

Autosport journalist Ben Anderson has joined the 11 regulars for the first round and quickly got up to pace as ninth quickest ahead of Alex Bosak, Vasily Romanov and Takashi Kasai.

Qualifying and the opening race take place on Sunday, with two more races on following on Monday.

Practice times
Pos Driver Practice 1 Practice 2 Practice 3 Practice 4
1 Max Verstappen 2:06.173 2:05.251 2:04.282 2:03.385
2 Nicholas Latifi 2:05.169 2:06.448 2:04.237 No time
3 Raffaele Marciello 2:06.841 2:04.754 2:04.820 2:04.395
4 Antonio Fuoco 2:05.700 2:06.087 2:05.449 2:04.529
5 Dennis van de Laar 2:07.083 2:05.843 2:05.428 2:04.850
6 Ed Jones 2:05.333 2:06.043 2:04.886 2:05.570
7 Tatiana Calderon 2:06.164 2:06.744 2:05.191 2:05.363
8 Lance Stroll 2:06.939 2:07.477 2:05.954 2:05.379
9 Ben Anderson 2:10.834 2:08.222 2:07.052 2:07.162
10 Alex Bosak 2:10.029 2:09.245 2:08.518 2:07.947
11 Vasily Romanov 2:09.368 2:09.699 2:09.789 2:08.642
12 Takashi Kasai 2:19.381 2:15.390 2:11.781 2:10.643