FP3: Gasly leads Perez in final Azerbaijan GP practice as Verstappen crashes
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly came from nowhere to comfortably head Free Practice 3 from the Red Bull of Sergio Perez, as Lewis Hamilton brought some hope to Mercedes, going third after their tough Friday. But the big story of the session was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen slewing painfully into the wall at Turn 15 midway through the session, bringing out a red flag.
Verstappen was pushing on hard tyres when he failed to slow sufficiently for Turn 15, sliding into the wall in a similar way to Charles Leclerc in FP2 yesterday.
Verstappen was unable to get the car into reverse and was forced to hop out, bringing out a red flag as the RB16B was recovered – Verstappen missing out on the final 35 minutes of running, with Red Bull hoping that his car will require minimal work to get it ready for qualifying.
That left AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly to lead the session by 0.344s from the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez – the Frenchman showing a fine turn of pace, as he stopped the clocks at 1m 42.251s, around a tenth slower than Perez’s fastest FP2 time from yesterday.
FORMULA 1 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX 2021
Practice 3 results
|1 Pierre Gasly GAS AlphaTauri||1:42.251|
|2 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing||+0.344s|
|3 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||+0.446s|
|4 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari||+0.527s|
|5 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari||+0.755s|
Hamilton spent much of the session mired down in P17, but would have been relieved to go P3 with a few minutes of the session remaining – although Mercedes estimated that his lap, which was 0.446s slower than Gasly’s, had benefited to the tune of six-tenths from a tow from Perez.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz lined up fourth and fifth for Ferrari, ahead of the leading McLaren of Lando Norris in sixth. Fernando Alonso maintained his form from FP2 to take seventh, ahead of the second AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda, the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon and the McLaren of 2017 Baku winner Daniel Ricciardo, who was 1.306s off the ultimate pace.
That top 10 order may have been skewed after Williams’ George Russell pulled up with an issue on his FW43B while many were on their qualifying simulation runs, Russell ending up 18th.
Nonetheless, it was Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel who was 11th – Vettel sliding into the escape road at Turn 15 on his first flying lap – with his team mate Lance Stroll 12th ahead of the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who was still unable to get on the pace of his team mate this weekend.
Kimi Raikkonen was 14th, ahead of Verstappen, who wound up classified 15th after his hard tyre run. Nicholas Latifi overcame an off at Turn 3 to take 16th, ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi, Russell and the two Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, both cars over 3s off the ultimate pace, with Mazepin having clouted the Turn 15 wall for good measure.
So, with Verstappen on the back foot, can the Dutchman recover in time to go for pole when qualifying gets under way at 1600 local time? Join us on F1.com to find out.