Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020

Verstappen beats Bottas in tight final Sakhir practice

2020 Sakhir Grand Prix third practice

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Max Verstappen put Red Bull on top in the final practice session for the Sakhir Grand Prix, relegating Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas to second place by two tenths of a second.

Verstappen recovered from a spin at turn two early on in the session, on hard tyres. Similarly to Sebastian Vettel’s incident in second practice, Verstappen skidded across the track and ended up facing the wrong way, in the run-off area.

There were relatively few other spins, bar a strange, last-minute incident for Charles Leclerc at the final corner that marred his in-lap in the session’s last few seconds.

George Russell, who led yesterday’s two practice sessions, was unable to set a faster time than Bottas at any point, finishing seventh-fastest behind Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris and Alex Albon. His Mercedes team said he hadn’t been able to put a clean lap together, and had time left to find in turn one.

In the closely-matched field – the top 15 were separated by less than a second – Russell was the only driver not to improve on his best time from Friday.

The Ferraris once again looked briefly promising before slipping down the order, Vettel at one point splitting Bottas and Russell at the top of the times. However, his session ended slightly early with a precautionary power unit change ahead of qualifying. He will avoid a penalty, though the same cannot be said of Haas newcomer Pietro Fittipaldi, who will start last after two parts on his power unit were changed.

Gasly had another strong session, after first practice saw the AlphaTauri cars next-fastest after Mercedes and Red Bull, finishing the session third and only three tenths of a second away from Verstappen’s time. Team mate Kvyat, however, showed the consequences of traffic – after repeatedly complaining about being held up, he finished 12th fastest, four-tenths down on Gasly.

Renault suffered a similar split – Ocon has been consistently out-paced by Daniel Ricciardo but finished fourth fastest, two hundredths behind Gasly while Ricciardo was 14th between the Ferraris. A negative Friday for McLaren seemed somewhat resolved by Lando Norris taking fifth fastest, although he was a tenth-and-a-half back from Ocon.

Fittpaldi was first out on track and spent the initial ten minutes of the session entirely alone, a traffic-free opportunity unlikely to be replicated in any other sessions at Sakhir. Much of the rest of the session, once other cars joined, was ruled by traffic with teams trying to position drivers on the crowded track.

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2020 Sakhir Grand Prix third practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
133Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda0’54.06423
277Valtteri BottasMercedes0’54.2700.20620
310Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda0’54.4270.36324
431Esteban OconRenault0’54.4530.38921
54Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault0’54.6060.54215
623Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda0’54.6290.56522
763George RussellMercedes0’54.6640.60020
811Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes0’54.6780.61420
918Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes0’54.6930.62918
1055Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault0’54.7200.65616
1199Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari0’54.8450.78120
1226Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda0’54.8500.78623
1316Charles LeclercFerrari0’54.8540.79021
143Daniel RicciardoRenault0’54.8570.79315
155Sebastian VettelFerrari0’54.8580.79417
167Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari0’55.1711.10720
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari0’55.3471.28319
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes0’55.4931.42921
1951Pietro FittipaldiHaas-Ferrari0’55.6661.60221
2089Jack AitkenWilliams-Mercedes0’55.6701.60623

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Third practice visual gaps

Max Verstappen – 0’54.064

+0.206 Valtteri Bottas – 0’54.270

+0.363 Pierre Gasly – 0’54.427

+0.389 Esteban Ocon – 0’54.453

+0.542 Lando Norris – 0’54.606

+0.565 Alexander Albon – 0’54.629

+0.600 George Russell – 0’54.664

+0.614 Sergio Perez – 0’54.678

+0.629 Lance Stroll – 0’54.693

+0.656 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 0’54.720

+0.781 Antonio Giovinazzi – 0’54.845

+0.786 Daniil Kvyat – 0’54.850

+0.790 Charles Leclerc – 0’54.854

+0.793 Daniel Ricciardo – 0’54.857

+0.794 Sebastian Vettel – 0’54.858

+1.107 Kimi Raikkonen – 0’55.171

+1.283 Kevin Magnussen – 0’55.347

+1.429 Nicholas Latifi – 0’55.493

+1.602 Pietro Fittipaldi – 0’55.666

+1.606 Jack Aitken – 0’55.670

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

PosDriverCarFP1FP2FP3Fri/Sat diffTotal laps
1Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda0’54.7220’54.8410’54.064-0.65895
2Valtteri BottasMercedes0’54.8680’55.3210’54.270-0.598116
3Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda0’55.1660’55.1330’54.427-0.706109
4Esteban OconRenault0’55.2730’54.9400’54.453-0.487120
5George RussellMercedes0’54.5460’54.7130’54.664+0.118117
6Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault0’56.0780’56.0310’54.606-1.42576
7Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda0’54.8110’55.0360’54.629-0.18282
8Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes0’55.7160’54.8660’54.678-0.188105
9Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes0’55.5580’55.1040’54.693-0.411103
10Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault0’55.7570’55.2580’54.720-0.53896
11Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari0’55.8580’55.5330’54.845-0.688112
12Daniil KvyatAlphaTauri-Honda0’55.0110’55.0680’54.850-0.161121
13Charles LeclercFerrari0’55.4490’54.854-0.59558
14Daniel RicciardoRenault0’55.3790’55.1240’54.857-0.267101
15Sebastian VettelFerrari0’55.2810’55.8300’54.858-0.423100
16Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari0’55.7830’55.4840’55.171-0.313106
17Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari0’56.1300’55.7380’55.347-0.391105
18Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes0’56.7640’55.7840’55.493-0.291121
19Pietro FittipaldiHaas-Ferrari0’57.0770’56.1100’55.666-0.444101
20Jack AitkenWilliams-Mercedes0’57.1870’56.2600’55.670-0.59114

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2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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22 comments on “Verstappen beats Bottas in tight final Sakhir practice”

  1. What I saw in P3, Max is up for it.

    If VES gets pole and wins the race, guess HAM is going to get a few more millions added to his new contract.

  2. Reality check for George Russell and the casual F1 fans. Getting to the business end and Russell is 4tenths off even with a mistake from Bottas on the final lap. 2 practice sessions (nevermind a few wins) does not a great driver make.

    1. I don’t know. He seems to have a smaller gap to his teammate than most other drivers. For a young driver in an unfamiliar car that doesn’t seem bad at all.
      Expecting him to put in the fastest time each session seems a bit over the top.
      And as others have said after yesterday: this is still practice, not qualification or race.

      1. @ChrisVB

        Firstly this is a very short track so you would expect the gaps to be tight. I would say even with Bottas making a mistake on the final corner being 4tenths off in identical track conditions is quite alarming. I’m not saying Russell is no good- but perhaps you should have a read through some of the over the top comments on the FP1&2 articles that were doing exactly this:

        Expecting him to put in the fastest time each session seems a bit over the top.

      2. He seems to have a smaller gap to his teammate than most other drivers. For a young driver in an unfamiliar car that doesn’t seem bad at all.

        Russell’s gap to Bottas was bigger than Fittipaldi’s and Aitken’s gap to their team mates. And they haven’t raced in Formula One before.

        But yes, I do agree with you that this is only practice and doesn’t matter that much.

        1. Anyone familiar with the term “sandbagging”?
          GR doesn’t want to crush Bottas till later.

  3. Wow @hazelsouthwell F2 report and FP3 report back-to-back, were you writing and watching simultaneously? Impressive stuff.

    1. @wsrgo haha yes and doing the livetweets; it’s really no problem! Feels like a very relaxed schedule compared to Formula E.

  4. lexusreliabilty?
    5th December 2020, 15:41

    I guess we have more evidence that Hamilton’s car can drive itself all the way to 6 tenths down? So if all these people who were mouthing off were saying Russell is better than Bottas, can we safely say that Albon is better than Russell? Maybe Norris in a Mclaren? Wait wait, how about Gasly? Or Ocon? Its just ridiculous how people come to all sorts of conclusions from 2 practice sessions and use that to compare it to a serial winner with over

    10 seasons

    of experience. I rather suspect alot of these people are F1 tourists. Not trying to knock Russell down but comeon, the lad still has alot to learn and prove.

    1. And yet you come to an equally dramatic conclusion on the basis of FP3? The fact is that Russell dealt with yesterday well. Today was a jump up by everyone bar him. Is that deficit down to car set up? Bottas’s speed being masked yesterday? Inexperience on his part? Just too slow? Other adaptability issues? Still too soon to tell. For me it doesn’t detract from yesterday’s start, or answer the real questions Mercedes need to know: how Russell deals with qualification, racing at the front (if he manages to qualify well), his race pace, and dealing with rivals on track like Verstappen and Bottas himself. That will tell them much more.

      1. lexusreliabilty?
        5th December 2020, 16:26

        @david-br

        And yet you come to an equally dramatic conclusion on the basis of FP3?

        I guess the sarcasm has gone totally over your head? I think my fundamental point is quite clear which again based on your follow up is similar to what I’m saying- Russell has alot to learn and prove, and 2 race weekends won’t tell us very much despite whether he does very well or continues to plummet downwards.

        1. 2 race weekends won’t tell us very much

          Maybe not, but presumably Mercedes think it will tell them quite a lot. Otherwise they would have kept Vandoorne. In terms of outright pace, I think there are too many factors for anyone but the team to have a clear idea of how GR performs, unless it’s exceptional either way. Even use of DAS for warming tyres for quali runs is a novelty for him, for example. But we can tell some stuff: how calm he is, how he seems to be learning, adapting, not making too many (or ideally any) big mistakes, his race start, how he deals with racing in this car.

  5. Counters those who disrespect Bottas, despite his excellent 2014 showing up in the Williams on the podium among the Mercs repeatedly. Origins of the Silver War by Floz.

    Russel is good, but he hasn’t exactly jumped in the Merc and wiped the floor with Bottas like all the detractors suggest any other driver on the Grid would (convenient as a way to diminish Hamilton’s achievements, perhaps?). Bottas is doing well to qualifying within hundredths of Hamilton, and often beating him in qualification.

    Bottas could do with better race performance, and also a bit more luck. Bet Bottas does have good pace.

    Quali and race are sure going to be interesting this weekend. As Russel gets more miles on the Mercedes he will no doubt speed up relative.

    1. It will be interesting to see Bottas qualify without the aid of Hamilton’s timing data. Normally there’s feed back between the cars on the most efficient route around the track. If one driver does better than another in a particular sector that information is fed back to improve their next run. Mercedes are without the luxery of the Hamilton benchmark this weekend.

  6. 4 tenths on this short track is ~8 tenth on a normal lap distance. And this is not Hamilton. So, Russell would lose 1-1.2 seconds to Hamilton?
    The problem is that Russell didn’t progress since yesterday. And he will need to go at least 53.5 to stay in top 5.

    1. lexusreliabilty?
      5th December 2020, 15:57

      4 tenths on this short track is ~8 tenth on a normal lap distance

      Also Bottas lost a couple of tenths running wide at the final corner. Again we are getting to the business end and I quite liked Anthony Davidson’s analysis on SKY F1 (IMO he’s the only one worth listening to):
      “George will for the 1st time in his F1 career go back to the garage, look at the telemetry have a head scratching moment and think WOW”.

      1. Bottas is no Latifi.

        Last practice before Qualifying , I don’t think he would be sandbagging.

        GR should still get top 3. I think Max is up for it and so is Bottas.

  7. And George is the only driver to lose time over the three sessions. All the others have found time.

  8. Kudos to Pietro and Jack. They are doing a very good job in those cars, very close to their team mates in what is a very unusual weekend to debut.

  9. Let’s face it, Russell is the second coming.

    All that car damage yet he still managed to get it into the top 10.

  10. so far looking like Mercedes worst P3 of the season…. ver Lec Bot Rus

    1. now Bot Rus Ver Lec … with 5 mins to go

Comments are closed.