Motor racing: Verstappen fastest in final Portuguese practice after Bottas and Hamilton's Friday best laps

Max Verstappen showed he will be hard to beat in qualifying with a time of 1min18.489sec at the Algarve circuit.
Max Verstappen showed he will be hard to beat in qualifying with a time of 1min18.489sec at the Algarve circuit.PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Red Bull's Max Verstappen lapped fastest in final practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix on Saturday (May 1), with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton second for Mercedes.

The Briton is hoping to become the first Formula One driver to reach 100 pole positions but Verstappen showed he will be hard to beat in qualifying with a time of 1min18.489sec at the Algarve circuit.

The lap was 0.236 of a second faster than Hamilton's best effort and 0.331 quicker than the Briton's Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton leads the standings after two races, a point clear of his Dutch rival thanks to a fastest lap at the previous race in Imola.

Both have won and finished second once.

"It's impossible to say now who the favourite is for qualifying. I think they are absolutely equal pace and it will just come down to the driver," commented 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg, Hamilton's former teammate.

It was the first time this weekend that Red Bull had led a practice session after Bottas and Hamilton were quickest in Friday's two.

Mexican Sergio Perez was fourth fastest for Red Bull with Esteban Ocon fifth for Renault-owned Alpine, who appear to have picked up pace this weekend.

The Ferrari pairing of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were sixth and seventh with McLaren's Lando Norris, who spun, eighth on the time sheets.

The virtual safety car was deployed during the session after a track advertising hoarding blew over in gusty conditions and had to be retrieved.