FP3: Verstappen quickest in final practice as rain makes meaningful running impossible
Max Verstappen was fastest in final practice for the Turkish Grand Prix, but heavy rain in Istanbul meant any meaningful running was largely impossible in a session that saw Lewis Hamilton finish at the very bottom of the timesheets.
Intermediate tyres were swiftly swapped for full wet tyres as the sheen of water made Istanbul Park’s recently re-laid surface even more slippery in FP3, and there were spins all over the track as a result. Halfway through the session, the rain ramped up and the drivers retreated en masse back to the pits.
Regardless, Verstappen went quickest and has now managed to top every practice session before qualifying for the first time since Mexico 2018, where he won. Here in Turkey, he waltzed his Red Bull around the circuit for a fastest lap of 1m48.485s – 20 seconds slower than his FP2-leading effort. Verstappen’s team mate Alex Albon was 1.574s behind, in third-place.
Charles Leclerc had a spectacular off at Turn 5 and narrowly missed the barriers, leaving hearts in mouths for tifosi around the world - and his mechanics back in the garage. But the Ferrari driver managed second place, 0.945s behind Verstappen. His team mate Sebastian Vettel was a promising sixth overall with a session-high haul of 14 laps.
FORMULA 1 DHL TURKISH GRAND PRIX 2020
Practice 3 results
|1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||1:48.485|
|2 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari||+0.945s|
|3 Alexander Albon ALB Red Bull Racing||+1.574s|
|4 Esteban Ocon OCO Renault||+5.412s|
|5 Lando Norris NOR McLaren||+5.510s|
Renault’s Esteban Ocon was tipped into a spin by Leclerc early in the session but finished fourth fastest – albeit 5.412s off the pace. Behind him, in P5, was McLaren’s Lando Norris, under a tenth slower than midfield rival Ocon. The other Renault of Daniel Ricciardo was 11th.
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez took P7 while his team mate Lance Stroll rounded out the top 10. Neither Racing Point finished in the top 10 on Friday, so the rain may be a blessing for the team in pink.
The highest-placed Mercedes was that of Valtteri Bottas, who completed just one flying lap on intermediates, in P8. Hamilton, on the other hand, was dead last with just a couple of laps to his name. He emerged for one installation lap, then again at the end of the session to test the wet conditions that he deemed “shocking”.
Kevin Magnussen took ninth for Haas, while his team mate Romain Grosjean was 15th. It was Grosjean who joked yesterday that running rental cars on track would help put some rubber on the surface – and on Friday night, that’s exactly what happened, albeit in vain thanks to the deluge that followed this morning.
Pierre Gasly was the highest-placed AlphaTauri - just behind Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi - in P14 while Daniil Kvyat was 17th, having spun numerous times. The Russian was audibly irate after losing control early in the session, but laughed late on as he even spun entering the pits, such was the lack of grip by that point. The AlphaTauri duo did brave conditions in the final 10 minutes of the sessions, possibly experimenting with a full wet set-up ahead of qualifying.
The Alfa Romeos also left the pits late on to try wet tyres, though Giovinazzi clipped the barriers after an off at Turn 3. He finished 13th and Kimi Raikkonen 16th overall.
Williams’ drivers, of whom George Russell starts last thanks to grid penalties, only clocked an install lap each but were classified ahead of last-place Hamilton in this unusual session.
There are signs that the wet weather could retreat ahead of qualifying, but it’s doubtful that drivers will be able to unleash the full wrath of their cars on Saturday afternoon. Will Mercedes’ grip on pole position in 2020 finally be loosened? We'll have full coverage for you right here on F1.com, so stay tuned to find out.