FP3: Verstappen tops final practice ahead of Hamilton and Bottas in Portimao
Red Bull's Max Verstappen topped the time sheets in the final practice session for the Portuguese Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in third.
Verstappen led just after the halfway mark and improved marginally to 1m18.489s with five minutes remaining, that time seeing him eclipse Hamilton by 0.236s and Bottas by 0.331s. Bottas jumped to third late in the session to push Red Bull's Sergio Perez down to fourth – though the Mexican was just 0.020s off the Finn by the end.
Bar a handful of spins, the other notable incident in FP3 was that an advertising hoarding was blown onto the final corner midway through, bringing out a brief Virtual Safety Car period. As for tyres, every driver bar Fernando Alonso of Alpine (P14, mediums), Lance Stroll (P16, mediums) and Sebastian Vettel (P18, mediums) of Aston Martin, set their fastest legal laps on softs.
READ MORE: 5 things we learned from Friday practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix
Ferrari were pleased with floor upgrades they brought in for Friday practice but reverted to their Imola-spec on Saturday, as was the plan. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz lapped at a competitive pace with the former finishing sixth and the latter seventh.
FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN GRANDE PRÉMIO DE PORTUGAL 2021
Practice 3 results
|1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||1:18.489|
|2 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||+0.236s|
|3 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes||+0.331s|
|4 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing||+0.351s|
|5 Esteban Ocon OCO Alpine||+0.371s|
Alpine's Esteban Ocon had a minor issue in that his digital dashboard wasn't working correctly, but the Frenchman beat both Ferraris for P5 overall, as Alpine look to have found some pace this weekend. His team mate Fernando Alonso was also looking quick despite finishing just 14th fastest in the session – the two-time champion had a couple of sub 1m19s times deleted for track limits infringements, which would have seen him finish third on the leaderboard.
McLaren's Lando Norris wasn't so confident after his Friday running and spun at Turn 14 late in this session. Yet he still finished eighth while team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was left beaming after a successful Friday, took 12th in FP3.
READ MORE: From his first win to that magical Monaco pole lap – Top 10 moments of Ayrton Senna brilliance
AlphaTauri, with small detail changes made to their floors this weekend, had Pierre Gasly finish ninth and Yuki Tsunoda 11th.
Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen led early on with a sub-1m20s soft-tyred run and ended up 10th in the session, batting off a spin at Turn 8 just after the session's VSC had come out. Team mate Antonio Giovinazzi finished 13th having missed FP1 for Callum Ilott to take the wheel.
Williams' George Russell managed P7 in Friday's FP1 but today he was 17th overall, his team mate Nicholas Latifi 19th as they hunt for another Q2 appearance later today.
READ MORE: TECH TALK – A look at the ingenious floor evolutions the teams have brought to Portimao
Both Haas drivers spun on Saturday, with Mick Schumacher losing control at Turn 14 spin to finish 15th overall – almost seven-tenths of a second faster than 20th-place team mate Nikita Mazepin, who spun at Turn 10 late in the session.
We're set up for what should be another nailbiting qualifying session as Hamilton hunts for his 100th career pole position and Verstappen aims to take his second pole of the season – with Perez and Bottas hoping to make their mark too.
And with spots of rain appearing at the end of FP3, will that make the difference when qualifying begins at 1500 local time? Join us live later on this afternoon to find out...