Verstappen in control after final F1 practice
By Mat Coch
Saturday 4th September, 2021 - 9:15pm
A strong qualifying simulation lap from Max Verstappen saw the Red Bull driver end final practice for the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix fastest by over half a second.
The Red Bull driver, the only man to dip below a 1:10, headed Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton after the final 60-minute practice outing.
Carlos Sainz crashed out midway through the session at Turn 3 while a number of others had off-track excursions.
Alfa Romeo substitute driver, Robert Kubica, was the first driver out on track.
It was the Pole’s first opportunity to get behind the wheel of the car which had been occupied by Kimi Raikkonen during Friday’s two practice sessions.
Hamilton was also out on track early as he looked to make up for lost time from Friday afternoon’s second practice.
Despite the interrupted running on the opening day, it was a comparatively quiet opening to the final practice session.
Hamilton was the early pace-setter with a 1:12.010s, marginally faster than Lando Norris’ initial effort of 1:12.134s.
The difference was the McLaren driver had a set of medium compound tyres fitted, versus the softs on Hamilton’s Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel had a moment exiting Turn 10, sliding into the gravel on corner exit but hanging onto the Aston Martin as it bounced through the kitty litter.
A crash for Carlos Sainz at Hugenholz drew the red flag after 20 minutes.
The Ferrari was parked with its nose towards the apex, the front wing torn off and the front-left hanging off the car.
The incident began as the Spaniard exited Turn 2, the back end sliding out before looping around and skating him sideways into the Tecpro barriers on the outside of Turn 3.
After 11 minutes, the session resumed.
Having not headed out initially, Verstappen took to the circuit for the first time in the session.
The Red Bull driver promptly delivered a 1:11.225s to go fastest briefly before Bottas shot to the top on a 1:11.217s.
Verstappen then improved to a 1:10.702s with his second flying lap, using a set of medium tyres versus the red-walled rubber for his Mercedes rival.
Bottas fell to third when Norris slipped in a 1:11.119s, also using a set of soft tyres.
Oversteer for the Brit then saw him off the road at Turn 9, heading into the gravel before recovering the car to the pits.
The McLaren driver had slipped to third on the timesheets after Fernando Alonso went fastest, a 1:10.670s in the Alpine set on soft compound tyres.
Bottas returned to the top when he recorded a 1:10.179s, his Mercedes team-mate Hamilton recording a 1:10.417s to slot in second fastest.
Verstappen then went half a second faster, his qualifying simulation logging a 1:09.623s, helped by a late tow from Sergio Perez as he rounded the banking in the final corner.
Next time around, Perez rose to fourth best with a 1:10.526s, without the benefit of the slipstream he’d offered his team-mate.
Mick Schumacher and Charles Leclerc both had incidents, caught out by a tail wind under braking for Turn 11, the former taking to the gravel and the latter navigating his way back on track via the return chute.
Verstappen’s time proved untouchable, the Red Bull driver ahead of the two Mercedes and then Perez in the second Red Bull as the session concluded.
Alonso ended proceedings fifth fastest, then cam Norris and the Aston Martins of Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel.
Daniel Ricciardo was 11th fastest, a 1:11.013s his best, while Robert Kubica ended up 19th fastest with a 1:12.162s, faster than Schumacher who propped up the timesheets.
F1 returns with qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix at 23:00 AEST.
Results: Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix, Free Practice 3
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||1:09.623||13|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||1:10.526||+0.903s||19|
|7||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:10.842||+1.219s||19|
|8||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1:10.872||+1.249s||20|
|10||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:11.005||+1.382s||21|
|15||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:11.299||+1.676s||19|
|17||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:11.980||+2.357s||29|
|19||88||Robert Kubica||Alfa Romeo||1:12.162||+2.539s||27|