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Wednesday January 19th, 2022 9:33PM

Hamilton-Verstappen's Formula 1 duel hits the track in Texas

By The Associated Press
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were both quicker than Red Bull's Max Verstappen in Friday's first practice for the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix.

Bottas was fastest in the first session as Hamilton and Verstappen went 2-3. The Mercedes power surge on a track where its cars have dominated shows the work Verstappen must do Sunday to hold his slim championship lead. Verstappen leads Hamilton by six points with six races to go.

The Texas race is the first of a two-part swing in North America as the series heads next week to Mexico City. Both races were canceled by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

Mercedes has dominated the Austin track, winning five times since it opened in 2012. Hamilton has won four of those races and teammate Bottas won in 2019.

Verstappen is chasing his first championship. Hamilton has seven. An eighth would push Hamilton ahead of Michael Schumacher for the most in series history.

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More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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