France, FP3: Verstappen quickest in final practice at Paul Ricard
Bottas 2nd, Sainz 3rd
Formula 1 Championship leader Max Verstappen went quickest in final practice for the French Grand Prix beating Mercedes Valtteri Bottas by 0.747s while the Red Bull driver’s chief title rival Lewis Hamilton finished almost a second off the Dutchman’s pace and fifth place.
The opening 10 miniutes of the session were quite, with no cars on track, but eventually the Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin broke the silence and the session got properly underway.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso set the pace in the opening stages of running, posting a lap of 1:33.206 on soft tyres to claim P1 just under seven hundredths of a second ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.
Then, shortly before the halfway mark Mercedes sent its drivers out and Bottas jumped to the top of the order with a soft tyre lap of 1:32.346. Verstappen was close behind him on track, however, and within moments he had edged past the Finn with a new P1 time of 1:32.337, just nine thousandths of a second in front of the Finn.
Bottas then went again and after a purple first sector and a personal best in the final third of the track he returned to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:32.309.
Once again Verstappen was behind him on a flying lap and when the Dutchman crossed the line he was three tenths clear of the Finn, but he stayed second when the lap was deleted for a track limits infringement in Turn 6.
Behind the top two Hamilton was struggling to find a comfort zone with his Mercedes and as the quali sims approached he was 0.358s behind his team-mate.
Hamilton found an improvement on his qualifying run, p;osting a lap of 1:32.266 but his team-mate held onto P1 by two tenths of a second with a lap of 1:32.047.
The Red Bulls then went out for their qualifying sims and after Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has slotted into P2, Sergio Pérez took P3 with a time of 1:32.238. Verstappen, though, was flying and after purple sectors in the middle at the end of the lap the Dutchman took P1 with a lap 0.747s clear of Bottas.
Sainz’s lap of 1m32.195s remained good enough for third place ahead of Pérez, whike Hamilton was forced to settle for fifth. Sixth place went to McLaren’s Lando Norris, with Alonso seventh for Alpine ahead of team-mate Esteban Ocon. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10.
|01||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda RB16B||1:31.300||11|
|02||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes W12||1:32.047||14|
|03||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari SF21||1:32.195||17|
|04||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull Honda RB16B||1:32.238||15|
|05||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W12||1:32.266||15|
|06||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes MCL35M||1:32.336||14|
|07||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault A521||1:32.624||15|
|08||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault A521||1:32.681||16|
|09||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda AT02||1:32.707||16|
|10||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren Mercedes MCL35M||1:32.759||14|
|11||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari SF21||1:32.820||15|
|12||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41||1:33.017||17|
|13||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21||1:33.051||15|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21||1:33.200||18|
|15||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41||1:33.328||16|
|16||George Russell||Williams Mercedes FW43B||1:33.364||16|
|17||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Honda AT02||1:33.424||17|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes FW43B||1:33.584||16|
|19||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari VF-21||1:34.143||14|
|20||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari VF-21||1:34.642||13|