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Verstappen tops Bahrain FP3 ahead of qualifying

0,7 seconds faster than P2: Verstappen in another league in FP3. Credits: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

It was time for the Third Free Practice session of 2021 and again it was Max Verstappen who topped the timesheets, while Pierre Gasly finished in a surprising P3 for AlphaTauri.

It was boiling in Bahrain, giving the cars a hot surface for the third Free Practice of the 2021 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix. With over 49 degrees Celsius surface temperature and 38,5 degrees in the air, the closing practice was not meant to deliver information pace-wise for the upcoming first qualifying of the season.

The picture at the end of the session was the same as for the two Free Practice sessions before: Max Verstappen led the field at the end of the session for the third consecutive time. Red Bull’s Dutch driver was in another league in FP3, as he finished 7 tenths quicker than Lewis Hamilton and did not even get the maximum out of his fastest lap. Another surprise of the day is the Honda-powered car of Pierre Gasly, as he finished in an impressive third-fastest and partly led the session.

However, it was his team boss Franz Tost who also pointed out that the FP3 we have seen is not meaningful as the temperatures will be significantly lower in qualifying. The Austrian expects both AlphaTauri’s to finish in Q3 in qualifying. Next to quick Honda-engines, we saw several lock-ups into the tricky corner 10 and a struggling Valtteri Bottas who exceeded the track limits at turn 4 multiple times. The Finn finished fourth fastest in the end, ahead of the second Red Bull car of Sergio Pérez.

Not only lock-ups happened to the drivers but a few spins, including Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who spun his Ferrari after turn 2, complaining about the low grip. The Monegasque concluded the session in P11, while his teammate Carlos Sainz finished in sixth. Further, the Spaniard also got a lovely wave from his old McLaren-teammate Lando Norris, who slowed down to greet his friend.

Verstappen on top for the third practice in a row of the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix, miles ahead of the rest. Alpine and Aston Martin disappointed, only finishing in P8 & 9 and P14 & 15. A promising battle for the pole is to come in qualifying, with better conditions, easier grip, and a tight field. Whoever will be on top then? We will see with lights out in a bit more than an hour!

The top 10 of the Bahrain GP Free Practice 3:

Pos.DriverTeamTime/Gap
1Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing1:30.577
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.739
3Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri+1.006
4Valtteri BottasMercedes+1.278
5Sergio PérezRed Bull Racing+1.331
6Carlos SainzFerrari+1.531
7Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing+1.647
8Esteban OconAlpine+1.846
9Lance StrollAston Martin+1.854
10Daniel RicciardoMcLaren+1.900
Total
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