FP3: Verstappen lays down a marker for Dutch GP qualifying with super-quick lap in FP3
To the delight of his home fans, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen laid down a big marker ahead of qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix, going fastest in Free Practice 3 by over half a second from the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, as Lewis Hamilton took third.
On his first flying lap on soft tyres near the end of the 60-minute session, Verstappen set a blistering pace in the first two sectors, going purple in both before his conveniently-placed team mate Sergio Perez towed him neatly over the line to complete a clean sweep of fastest sector times.
That may have flattered Verstappen’s stunning time of 1m 09.623s a touch, but still put him a full 0.556s ahead of the Mercedes of Bottas.
Hamilton, meanwhile, was a further two-tenths behind his team mate in third, the seven-time champion making up for time lost during his FP2 stoppage, and with the engine he used last weekend at Spa now powering his Mercedes W12 as a replacement for his Friday unit.
Perez wound up P4, 0.903s behind his team mate, and just a tenth ahead of the impressively-placed Alpine of Fernando Alonso.
FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN DUTCH GRAND PRIX 2021
Practice 3 results
|1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||1:09.623|
|2 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes||+0.556s|
|3 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||+0.794s|
|4 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing||+0.903s|
|5 Fernando Alonso ALO Alpine||+1.047s|
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, completed just five laps in FP3 before he lost the rear end coming out of Turn 2, slewing across the track before making a heavy impact with the banked Turn 3 wall and bringing out the fourth red flag of the weekend so far – with Ferrari now facing a stiff challenge to get the Spaniard’s SF21 fixed in time for qualifying, as Sainz ended up P16.
Behind Alonso, McLaren’s Lando Norris survived a trip through the Turn 9 gravel to end up P6, ahead of the Aston Martin pairing of Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel – Vettel enduring his own trip into the gravel at Turn 10 after being caught out by a tail wind.
The second Ferrari of Charles Leclerc was ninth, Leclerc running off track at Turn 11 on a final quick lap, and finishing ahead of the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly who took P10.
One of the big news stories on Saturday morning was that Kimi Raikkonen had been side-lined after testing positive for Covid-19, his place taken by Robert Kubica. And Kubica did well in the circumstances to end up P19, and ahead of the Haas of Mick Schumacher, who ran through the Turn 11 gravel on his push lap.
Ahead of the Pole, Daniel Ricciardo was 11th for McLaren, ahead of the Williams of Nicholas Latifi, the Alpine of Esteban Ocon and the second Williams of George Russell in P14.
Kubica’s team mate Antonio Giovinazzi was P15 ahead of Sainz, with Yuki Tsunoda and Nikita Mazepin P17 and P18, ahead of Kubica and Schumacher.
So, it’s Verstappen very much with the advantage heading into qualifying, the Dutchman’s day going particularly well after he was cleared on Saturday morning of passing under a red flag in FP2 – with the Zandvoort fans expectant for this afternoon’s quali session at this epic circuit.