Spain, FP3: Verstappen sets the pace in final practice

Hamilton 2nd, Leclerc 3rd


By Olivier Ferret

8 May 2021 - 13:06
Spain, FP3: Verstappen sets the (...)

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen topped the timesheet in final practice for the Spanish Grand Prix beating Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by 0.235s with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

The one-hour session got off to a slow start, with just Alpine’s Fernando Alonso on track but eventually more cars appeared and Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi all enjoyed brief spells at the top of the table.

Leclerc, on soft tyres, then moved ahead with a lap of 1:18.997 and then worked his way down to 1:18.882 before the Mercedes cars appeared on track for the first time. Valtteri Bottas crossed the line ahead of Hamilton to set a new benchmark of 1:18.423 but the defending champion then edged past that marker with a lap of 1m18.304.

Verstappen then emerged for his first run of the day and he did so on medium tyres. The Dutch driver slotted into third place behind Bottas, 0.513s slower than Hamilton and with most of the deficit, around four tenths of a seconds, lost to the Mercedes in the final sector.

With the two-thirds mark in view, the field then retreated to the pit lane to prepare for qualifying simulations. Ferrari were the first to send their drivers out on new softs and Leclerc and Sainz took second and third places behind Hamilton.

The Mercedes drivers then emerged but initially neither made any gains, with Hamilton making a mistake in Turn 9 and then catching traffic later in the lap and Bottas also losing time in the final sector. Both continued their runs, however, and eventually Hamilton found time eventiually getting to 1:18.070 in the final 10 minutes.

Verstappen then appeared on softs and after a personal best in the first sector the Dutchman blazed through the second sector going almost half a second quicker than anyone in the middle part of the track. Late in the lap though he got oversteer in the final chicane and lost time but he still had enough in hand to beat Hamilton by 0.235s with a lap of 1:17.835.

Bottas’s failure to improve left him fifth behind the Ferraris while McLaren’s Lando Norris ended up sixth. Pierre Gasly was seventh for AlphaTauri, ahead of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Räikkönen. Pérez rounded out the top 10 in the second Red Bull, 0.7s slower than Verstappen.

01 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:17.835 11
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12 1:18.070 14
03 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF21 1:18.308 17
04 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF21 1:18.410 18
05 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W12 1:18.423 15
06 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:18.494 14
07 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:18.535 17
08 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:18.582 21
09 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:18.597 18
10 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:18.606 16
11 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A521 1:18.662 18
12 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:18.673 21
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A521 1:18.700 15
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:18.877 18
15 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:19.005 17
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:19.214 19
17 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:19.363 18
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:19.392 16
19 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:19.999 17
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:20.237 15

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