Verstappen two tenths quicker than Hamilton in final Saudi Arabia practice session

2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix third practice

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Max Verstappen topped the times in third practice by setting the quickest time all weekend ahead of qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull was quickest by two tenths of a second ahead of championship rival Lewis Hamilton.

Drivers headed out into the twilight for the second and final time before qualifying. This afternoon’s session and tomorrow’s race will take place entirely under the floodlights around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Having set the pace on Friday, Mercedes sent both Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas out on hard tyres in the early phase of the session, while Red Bull opted to run on the soft tyres instead.

Hamilton set the early benchmark with a 1’29.605, but brought out the yellow flag briefly when he locked up under braking for the first turn and ran off to the escape road, having to spin around to recover back onto the circuit.

Verstappen improved to go quickest of all with a 1’28.105 – comfortably the fastest time of the weekend so far. Lance Stroll had to abandon one of his run when he was told he had a puncture on his Aston Martin. He pitted and was able to continue.

With many drivers having expressed concerns about the impact of traffic in qualifying after Friday’s running, there were multiple near-misses involving championship contender Hamilton.

Nikita Mazepin had to take sudden avoiding action as he rounded the fast turn seven and eight to find Hamilton cruising on the apex ahead. Mercedes had warned Hamilton of the Haas approaching, but it was too late for him to react.

FIA F1 race director Michael Masi was heard being asked by the Haas team for his thoughts on the incident. He told them he shared their concerns although accepted that neither driver had received warning flags from the marshals before the almost-collision.

Hamilton was then involved in a second incident with Pierre Gasly, who began a flying lap only to find the Mercedes driver sitting on the racing line at the braking zone. Gasly immediately abandoned the lap.

In the closing minutes of the session, Verstappen shaved five thousandths of a second off his best time to go two tenths faster than his title rival’s best time, with Sergio Perez taking third in the second Red Bull.

The two AlphaTauris went fourth and fifth fastest, with Yuki Tsunoda just ahead of team mate Gasly. Valtteri Bottas was sixth in the second Mercedes, followed by the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr.

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2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix third practice result

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
133Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’28.10020
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’28.3140.21423
311Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’28.6290.52921
422Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’28.6410.54120
510Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’28.7150.61522
677Valtteri BottasMercedes1’29.0190.91919
716Charles LeclercFerrari1’29.1011.00122
855Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’29.1491.04919
931Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’29.1771.07719
104Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’29.3001.20018
1114Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’29.4181.31821
1299Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’29.5901.49020
137Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’29.6891.58924
143Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’29.7171.61719
1518Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’30.0301.93014
1663George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’30.0341.93417
175Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’30.2962.19615
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’30.3662.26617
1947Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’30.9332.83320
209Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’30.9792.87923

Third practice visual gaps

Max Verstappen – 1’28.100

+0.214 Lewis Hamilton – 1’28.314

+0.529 Sergio Perez – 1’28.629

+0.541 Yuki Tsunoda – 1’28.641

+0.615 Pierre Gasly – 1’28.715

+0.919 Valtteri Bottas – 1’29.019

+1.001 Charles Leclerc – 1’29.101

+1.049 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’29.149

+1.077 Esteban Ocon – 1’29.177

+1.200 Lando Norris – 1’29.300

+1.318 Fernando Alonso – 1’29.418

+1.490 Antonio Giovinazzi – 1’29.590

+1.589 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’29.689

+1.617 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’29.717

+1.930 Lance Stroll – 1’30.030

+1.934 George Russell – 1’30.034

+2.196 Sebastian Vettel – 1’30.296

+2.266 Nicholas Latifi – 1’30.366

+2.833 Mick Schumacher – 1’30.933

+2.879 Nikita Mazepin – 1’30.979

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

PosDriverCarFP1FP2FP3Fri/Sat diffTotal laps
1Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’29.8421’29.2131’28.100-1.11362
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’29.7861’29.0181’28.314-0.70465
3Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’30.9601’29.7681’28.629-1.13969
4Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’31.0991’29.5971’28.641-0.95665
5Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’30.2631’29.0991’28.715-0.38471
6Valtteri BottasMercedes1’30.0091’29.0791’29.019-0.0665
7Charles LeclercFerrari1’30.6001’29.7721’29.101-0.67171
8Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’30.5641’29.5891’29.149-0.4468
9Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’31.0231’29.5551’29.177-0.37869
10Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’31.0291’30.0041’29.300-0.70459
11Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’30.8421’29.4411’29.418-0.02368
12Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’30.3181’30.1101’29.590-0.5269
13Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’31.2961’30.2761’29.689-0.58773
14Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’30.6081’29.9681’29.717-0.25165
15Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’31.0441’30.4421’30.030-0.41260
16George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’31.3431’30.5061’30.034-0.47268
17Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’30.8861’30.5021’30.296-0.20661
18Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’31.8211’31.0391’30.366-0.67366
19Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’31.5251’30.6521’30.933+0.28163
20Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’33.4641’31.6291’30.979-0.6565

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2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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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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4 comments on “Verstappen two tenths quicker than Hamilton in final Saudi Arabia practice session”

  1. The incident with Mazepin was really scary to watch, especially when you see it enfolding from his on board camera. He is at full speed and then suddenly finds Hamilton dawdling bang on the middle of the racing line. He slipped through that runoff and between the Mercedes and the wall there by a small margin.

  2. The soft is still very difficult to get to work properly, especially through S2. I guess every team except Alfa Romeo, Williams, Aston Martin and Haas will run mediums in Q2 and some might even run them in Q3.

    I wonder if Mercedes were just struggling on the softs or if they actually turned their engines down a bit for their second run. S2 is mostly power limited and it just seems weird for Mercedes to lose 0.3 there just because of the tyre.

    1. good point about S2 there @srga91.

  3. Todays practice is showing that qualifying will be spectacular, if not very dangerous.
    Hamilton was not personally to blame for the Mazepin accident imo, but should have been updated by his team in a better way. All he heard from the team was “next car is Mazepin”.
    The Gasly incident however, I think here Hamilton could and should have done more. He was again fully on racing line, and in replay you could see him checking his mirrors. He must have seen Gasly here, as he was right behind him. Very strange action of Lewis here.
    Nevertheless, let’s hope for no penalties. The battle should be fought on track and not in stewards room. RB and Mercs look like having same pace here, let’s see how it unfolds!

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