Max Verstappen outshines both Mercedes beating them in the timesheet by over half a second and his championship rival, Lewis Hamilton, by nearly seven-tenths of a second.
Mercedes seemed to have found the balance in their setup and put together a strong car for FP2 having topped the timesheets. Redbull, however, felt they held their advantage in race pace during their long stints in FP2.
Unlike last weekend’s final practice, cars were quick to exit their garage this weekend. The Ferraris, Mclarens, Williams, and the Haas’ were out 2 minutes into the session. All the cars were running on Pirelli’s prototype tire.
15 minutes into FP3, both the Mercedes exited the garage for their out laps on the prototype tires. Valterri Bottas had a small moment dipping his rear left into the gravel at turn 4 on his first flying lap. Sergio Perez came out on the Hard compound almost halfway into the session with Verstappen still in the garage. Charles Leclerc had a similar scare at turn 4 losing his front and rear left in the gravel.
The halfway mark during the session saw Verstappen leaving the garage on the softs and topped the timesheets on his first lap, being the first driver to enter the 1:04s. His time was still 0.5s off the best time in FP3 during last weekend’s session. Yuki Tsunoda had a massive moment, completely losing his rear and ending up on the grass, down at turn 9. Hamilton found himself having a massive lockup at turn 3 for his first run on the soft tires and was 3 tenths down on Verstappen after his second flying lap.
Yesterday, during the FP2, several cars were backing the pack up at turn 9. This has forced FIA’s technical director, Michael Masi to enforce that drivers will not be able to slow their cars down at turns 9 and 10 before setting their flying laps. This ruling has been set in place as a safety precaution as the racing line for turn 9 merges with the pit entry. This is risky as collisions could occur with cars on flying laps and cars backing the pack up. This will be key during qualifying as some cars may have compromised qualifying laps.
With 15 minutes left in the session, Mazepin also found himself in the gravel at turn 4 and Norris went extremely wide, into the grass at the exit of turn 10.
With qualifying just two hours after FP3, teams often run their qualifying program during the final practice session. Verstappen has gotten the better of Hamilton in the last 4 qualifying sessions and is in exceptional form. Today’s qualifying simulation had Verstappen ahead of both the Mercedes by 5 tenths. The Ferraris were quick through the session and finished much ahead of both the Mclarens. Pierre Gasly also had a strong session finishing in the top 5.
The battle between AlphaTauri, Alpine and Aston Martin is expected to be an exciting one, as Aston Martin is said to have brought upgrades for this weekend.
Despite the upgrades, Aston Martin had just one car in the top 10. Alonso is also getting comfortable in the Alpine as he finished FP3 in the top 10.
Alfa Romeo’s, Antonio Giovinazzi was surprisingly quick during FP3 and finished the session in the top 5. Unfortunately, points are not handed out during FP3 and he will have to carry this pace forward into qualifying to stand a chance at points for this weekend.
Track limits will, once again, be interesting during qualifying as Hamilton had his fastest time deleted due to a violation at turn 10.
Tire degradation will play a large role in tomorrow’s Grand Prix as Pirelli has introduced a softer compound with their tires. The teams have now had 3 sessions with the softer tire compounds and will have a fair idea of its capabilities.
Top 10 for the session are:
|1.||Max Verstappen||Redbull Racing Honda||–.–|
|5.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||+0.754s|
|7.||Sergio Perez||Redbull Racing Honda||+0.805s|
|8.||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||+0.843s|
|10.||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||+0.951s|