Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Baku City Circuit, 2021

Gasly tops final practice after Verstappen crashes

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix third practice

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Pierre Gasly put AlphaTauri on top in a hectic final practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen crashed at turn 15 early in proceedings, damaging the front-right corner of his car and bringing his session to an end. Practice was briefly red-flagged while his car was recovered.

Sergio Perez set the second quickest time, with Lewis Hamilton third fastest after a strong slipstream from the Red Bull driver on his fastest lap.

It was another warm and sunny start to the morning as teams prepared for the final practice session of the weekend with wind speed comparable to Friday.

The two Haas drivers were the only cars out on circuit in the opening moments of the session, taking advantage of the clear track.

With almost half of the session gone, Verstappen locked his rear wheels under braking for turn 15 and hit the barriers, causing moderate damage to his front wing and his right front wheel. Verstappen was unable to drive out from the barriers and the session was red flagged while the Red Bull was recovered, ending the championship leader’s participation in final practice.

The session was restarted, with Perez using soft tyres to set the new fastest time ahead of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari.

George Russell’s session came to an end when he reported a loss of power in his Williams with seven minutes remaining. He pulled off the circuit while his car was recovered under Virtual Safety Car.

Valtteri Bottas continued to struggle in the Mercedes, running off down the escape road multiple times during the session. He could only manage the 13th-fastest in the second Mercedes, while Verstappen finished the session in 15th after his crash.

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2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix third practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
110Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’42.25116
211Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’42.5950.34419
344Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’42.6970.44616
416Charles LeclercFerrari1’42.7780.52716
555Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’43.0060.75517
64Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’43.0110.76015
714Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’43.0800.82915
822Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’43.2440.99319
931Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’43.2941.04315
103Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’43.5571.30617
115Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’43.5851.33413
1218Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’43.6821.43113
1377Valtteri BottasMercedes1’43.7451.49416
147Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’43.8261.57517
1533Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’43.9841.7336
166Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’44.0541.80317
1799Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’44.1131.86211
1863George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’44.4342.18312
1947Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’45.2823.03117
209Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’45.7113.46012

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Third practice visual gaps

Pierre Gasly – 1’42.251

+0.344 Sergio Perez – 1’42.595

+0.446 Lewis Hamilton – 1’42.697

+0.527 Charles Leclerc – 1’42.778

+0.755 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’43.006

+0.760 Lando Norris – 1’43.011

+0.829 Fernando Alonso – 1’43.080

+0.993 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’43.244

+1.043 Esteban Ocon – 1’43.294

+1.306 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’43.557

+1.334 Sebastian Vettel – 1’43.585

+1.431 Lance Stroll – 1’43.682

+1.494 Valtteri Bottas – 1’43.745

+1.575 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’43.826

+1.733 Max Verstappen – 1’43.984

+1.803 Nicholas Latifi – 1’44.054

+1.862 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’44.113

+2.183 George Russell – 1’44.434

+3.031 Mick Schumacher – 1’45.282

+3.460 Nikita Mazepin – 1’45.711

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

PosDriverCarFP1FP2FP3Fri/Sat diffTotal laps
1Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’43.6301’42.1151’42.595+0.4857
2Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’43.1841’42.2161’43.984+1.76847
3Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’43.5211’42.2431’43.006+0.76361
4Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’43.7571’42.5341’42.251-0.28365
5Charles LeclercFerrari1’43.2271’42.4361’42.778+0.34258
6Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’45.0841’42.6931’43.080+0.38763
7Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’43.8931’43.1561’42.697-0.45959
8Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’45.0921’42.9411’44.113+1.17256
9Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’43.9961’43.0181’43.011-0.00759
10Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’45.4461’43.0201’43.294+0.27461
11Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’45.3841’43.1301’43.244+0.11469
12Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’44.9431’43.2201’43.826+0.60658
13Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’43.7321’43.2981’43.557+0.25964
14Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’45.4151’43.8811’43.585-0.29658
15Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’45.2341’43.8121’43.682-0.1356
16Valtteri BottasMercedes1’44.8911’44.1841’43.745-0.43958
17Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’45.7741’46.9831’44.054-1.7243
18George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’45.4521’44.5571’44.434-0.12359
19Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’46.8991’46.0951’45.282-0.81348
20Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’46.9451’45.5631’45.711+0.14853

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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30 comments on “Gasly tops final practice after Verstappen crashes”

  1. The tow effect is absolutely massive. I have never thought it was worth 0.6-1.0 second. Hamilton was slower by 0.1-0.2 seconds than Bottas through the first two sectors, but ends up 1.1 seconds ahead of him.

    1. Not quite. If your numbers were correct, the tow would actually be worth 1.2s. But Hamilton was actually about half a second faster than Bottas through the first 2 sectors. Bottas’s time after 2 sectors was shown as 0.7s down on 1st at the time (Perez). When Hamilton went through the second sector, he was initially shown as 0.2-0.3s down on Perez, but Gasly then went fastest and Hamilton’s gap suddenly jumped to 0.8s. So Bottas’s time was relative to Perez, while Hamilton’s was relative to Gasly.

      You can see this in the sector times. Hamilton’s S3 time was 0.6s faster than Bottas, which was also the amount that Mercedes say Hamilton gained. Hamilton’s best S1 and S2 times were together about 0.4-0.5s faster than Bottas’s best times. 0.6 + 0.5 = 1.1.

  2. Well, that was an impressive lap by Gasly. Cracking stuff.

  3. I thought Mercedes might have been sandbagging yesterday but now they look to be genuinely slow (at least on one lap pace). Hard to make any predictions with any certainty. Looks like qualifying is going to be pretty hectic!

    1. All Mercedes powered cars have new engines this weekend. They will not turn them up before qualifying. Mercedes will fight for pole in a few hours time. Just like McLaren.

      1. Hmmm not sure about that @spafrancorchamps . Last run in FP3 they would have turned them up for sure.

      2. Indeed. Look at the improvement friday to saturday of merc vs all other teams. Its not a sa dbag, its an entire beach

    2. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
      5th June 2021, 11:19

      I thought so too. But the general issue seems to lack of temperature in the soft tires and multiple laps needed to warm them up. I think they’ll qualify between P4-P8.

  4. Jockey Ewing
    5th June 2021, 11:12

    I’m not the best observer, but the news around Valtteri’s pit stop blunder made me to look at the painted “slot” where the car should stop at the pits.
    So at Baku these slots look quite different. Their paintjob not looks uniform, but quite different. I have seen different patterns at the end of FP3, when the camera showed the pits for a longer timespan.
    So who does this paintjob? Are the teams allowed to do it for themselves, based on their needs (for example dimesions of the car, like wheelbase, and some intra-team measurements).
    Or are they serverd by the local organizers, based on their own neeeds?
    And then for another kind of major events these slots are mabye repainted?

    The slots here at Baku looked quite different. Before this I thought that the slots are uniform in size and paintjob.

    1. Jockey Ewing
      5th June 2021, 11:14

      … by the local organizers, based on the teams’ own neeeds? …

      1. It’s tape. The teams put it down on Thursday.
        And they also have to take it off before they leave.

        1. Jockey Ewing
          5th June 2021, 12:49

          Thank you. This solution seems quite logical and functional.
          Here at the end of FP3 the camera stayed over the pit lane for a long while, and amongst the aformentioned things, it was quite apparent, that these slots are a bit angled towards the track, to help restarting, instead of being 100% parallel with the pit lane.

  5. Yellow flag in the comment section.

  6. Well if anyone had doubts about whether you can reverse on track watched that session; they are now left in now doubt.

    1. Just don’t let Ricciardo show you how to do it ;)

  7. This session was a total mess. I’m curious to see the tow strategies in quali.

  8. Well well well… HAM is experiencing VET’s situation at Ferrari in 2017, 2018 and 2019: winning 1 race, then struggling to get on the podium in the next race.

    1. Facepalm

      He won 3, and he is not struggling, these last 2 tracks just doesn’t suit Mercedes

      Reply moderated
    2. What you’ve done there is watch the F2 race and confuse it with F1. Hamilton races in Formula 1 so he didn’t take place in today’s race, hence he wasn’t on the podium. The F1 race will take place tomorrow. Hope this helps.

      1. You’re confusing me for somebody else. Monaco is already over for some weeks… and HAM obviously wasn’t on the podium.

    3. This has proven that Mercedes’s 2021 is really POS as per pre-season test, look where is Bottas the true indication of the car performance.

      1. Bottas has never been a benchmark driver. I mean Russel who barely fit in Mercedes cockpit with no simulation, testing or whatsoever was able to extract more from that car than Bottas. The real performance of the car can be seen with Hamilton in race conditions.

        1. Agree, bottas is generally (he did fine at monaco) an underperforming driver, so looking at bottas would underrate the car’s strength, same goes for perez this year so far unfortunately.

  9. Hoping merc can be 1s off every race. That would make an interesting championship.

    1. @f1fan-2000 well, the low rake nerf will be the main cause if that’s the case. And it would be daft on not betting on a Red bull title.

  10. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    5th June 2021, 11:56

    I still don’t buy Mercedes struggling this much – one or both will be in the top three at least. Will Verstappen’s car be repaired in time for qualifying?

    1. I’m with you Adam. The pace shown at Barcelona proves the point. Ok, they weren’t lightning fast in the slower sector 3 but they had great pace when needed. I’m really not one for conspiracy theories but I think it may be a possibility that merc do not want any pegging back of their PU when all development will be frozen for the next 5 years after this year? Got to take it at face value i guess but to lose so much time after last season’s dominance seems strange.

  11. That would leave Max coasting through the rest of the season. We need a Ferrari in the mix in that scenario.

    1. Yes, but they seem to be doing well now, they’re both street circuits and have softer tyres than usual, but baku has significantly longer straights than monaco.

  12. The ghost of 2018 struck Max.

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