‘Junior’ Verstappen Fuels More Rivalry With Fernando Alonso in First Free Practice Session of Season

What, Me Worry? Max Verstappen, known to his supporters as “Junior,” steals the show on Friday in this year’s first free practice session. (Baron Hariot/AFP/Getty Images) Max Verstappen’s slap on Fernando Alonso’s rear-view mirror…

‘Junior’ Verstappen Fuels More Rivalry With Fernando Alonso in First Free Practice Session of Season

What, Me Worry? Max Verstappen, known to his supporters as “Junior,” steals the show on Friday in this year’s first free practice session. (Baron Hariot/AFP/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen’s slap on Fernando Alonso’s rear-view mirror saved a high-speed collision during the first practice session for the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix on Friday.

With about a quarter of the lap complete, Verstappen’s Red Bull car merged into Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, so the two bumped wheels-to-wheels. Alonso spun around and clipped the engine of Verstappen’s car, sending both flying. Neither driver could keep their car from spearing into a safety barrier before hitting the gantry.

On Twitter, drivers called Verstappen’s behavior reckless and inexcusable, and the incident fed into the rivalry between the 18-year-old driver from the Netherlands and two-time Formula One champion Alonso, with the Dutchman sitting a tenth of a second off Alonso’s pace.

Afterward, both drivers took their place in the paddock’s “Blood Brothers” group, which includes two of the Ferrari-winning drivers of last year: four-time champion Kimi Raikkonen and Alonso. In the group photo, the two Finns are more into arguing than strutting, but all three men posed for a group picture with moderator Navin Shah of FIA, the governing body for F1.

“Who would ever win this cool trophy anyway?” Raikkonen asked, showing that in spite of the lingering aggression, his and Alonso’s rivalry is deeply rooted in mutual respect.

Team Sauber, who brought Alonso back to the series full-time this year, had a much easier time in the first free practice, with Kevin Magnussen topping the timesheet.

The best result for McLaren, once McLaren’s nemesis, was Fernando Alonso, who was nearly a second behind Magnussen, and 10th overall.

Formula One returns to Montreal for its first race of the season Sunday. For results and more data, check out Time.

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