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Verstappen dominates FP3 ahead of Norris and Hamilton

Max Verstappen at the Emilia Romagna GP. Credits: Getty Images.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen has set the quickest lap time of the final free practice session at Imola.

The FP3 session of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix started with updates concerning track limits at turn 14 and 15. Drivers are now allowed to drive over the curbs of the Variante Alta chicane without getting their times deleted.

Kimi Raikkonen was the first driver on track this morning, closely followed by both Haas drivers. Most of the teams took more than 20 minutes to send their drivers on track, leaving them just 40 minutes to train, considering the shortened format of the practice sessions for the 2021 season.

Just like yesterday, both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz looked very fast around Imola, setting the best time of the session multiple times. Ferrari’s momentum was however halted due to the crash of Nicholas Latifi, after 30 minutes. The session was, therefore, red-flagged, even though the Canadian driver managed to exit the gravel pit by himself, on his four wheels.

At the session restart, both the Mercedes and the Red Bulls started setting flying laps. Nonetheless, they saw several of their times being deleted, after exceeding the track limits at turn nine or losing control at the exit of corners, forcing them to abort their attempts. 

We saw a lot of drivers lose control around the very sinuous Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, showing how precise and careful you have to be in order to set a good time around the track.

With 20 minutes left, Pierre Gasly managed to beat Verstappen and the Mercedes on medium tires, Tsunoda was also about to set an astonishing lap, before having to abort his attempt, due to traffic. This shows the extreme current pace of the Alpha Tauris, which could realistically take part in a fight for great points against the Ferraris and the McLarens this Sunday.

Talking about the McLarens, Lando Norris once more proved his talent, setting the best time of the session one-tenth in front of Hamilton’s W12 with 15 minutes until the checkered flag. The Briton already mentioned his concerns about the current qualifying pace of the MCL35M. We can therefore think the Woking-based team has managed to improve on this aspect.

In the last few minutes of the session, Max Verstappen left no question marks, setting an incredible lap, rounding the Imola circuit almost 5 tenths faster than any other driver.

The most disappointing team of this third practice session is probably Aston Martin. The British team looked like they were struggling throughout the session, never really achieving to close up to the front runners.

1Max VerstappenRed Bull1:14.958
2Lando NorrisMcLaren+0.456
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.557
4Sergio PerezRed Bull+0.593
5Charles LeclercFerrari+0.780
6Pierre GaslyAlpha Tauri+0.932
7Carlos SainzFerrari+0.950
8Valtteri BottasMercedes+0.950
9Fernando AlonsoAlpine+1.228
10Esteban OconAlpine+1.270
11Yuki TsunodaAlpha Tauri+1.272
12Lance StrollAston Martin+1.287
13Daniel RicciardoMcLaren+1.295
14Sebastian VettelAston Martin+1.431
15George RussellWilliams+1.469
16Mick SchumacherHaas+1.490
17Nicholas LatifiWilliams+1.579
18Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo+1.654
19Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo+1.845
20Nikita MazepinHaas+2.440
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