Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton pipped title rival Max Verstappen to claim the fastest time in Free Practice 3 for the Styrian Grand Prix, with Valtteri Bottas slotting into P3 ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
Despite heavy rain overnight, Verstappen became the first driver to lap the Red Bull Ring this weekend in under 65 seconds midway through FP3, with a lap of 1m 04.971s. But as the drivers emerged from the pits for their final flying laps, Lewis Hamilton was able to log a 1m 04.369s – Verstappen then improving, but only to a 1m 04.573s, 0.204s adrift.
The Dutchman was himself two-tenths clear of the second Mercedes of Bottas – who’ll receive a three-place grid drop after qualifying as a result of his ‘dangerous driving’ pit lane spin in FP2 yesterday – with Perez still a little way off the pace, claiming P4 but 0.657s adrift of Hamilton.
FORMULA 1 BWT GROSSER PREIS DER STEIERMARK 2021
Practice 3 results
|1 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes||1:04.369|
|2 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing||+0.204s|
|3 Valtteri BOTTAS Mercedes||+0.463s|
|4 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing||+0.657s|
|5 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri||+0.781s|
The AlphaTauris enjoyed some promising pace on Saturday morning, Yuki Tsunoda taking P5, while Pierre Gasly – after missing all of FP2 yesterday with a power unit issue – took sixth, the Frenchman with a new MGU-K and gearbox, for which he won’t receive any penalties.
Charles Leclerc was Ferrari’s leading light in seventh – and the last driver within a second of Hamilton – with the Alpine of Fernando Alonso and the two Aston Martins of Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel rounding out the top 10.
Antonio Giovinazzi put in Alfa Romeo’s best time in P11, with the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon in 12th, ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and George Russell in the leading Williams in 14th.
Fifteenth was the second Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen, while Mick Schumacher was an impressive 16th, the German ahead of both McLarens, who after their impressive day yesterday appeared to be keeping their powder dry in FP3, Daniel Ricciardo only 17th while Lando Norris was 19th, having had a key lap deleted.
Nicholas Latifi split the McLaren pair for Williams, while Nikita Mazepin was last, having spun his Haas VF-21 early on in the session.
So, after a clean sweep of fastest times for Verstappen on Friday, Hamilton and Mercedes have hit back ahead of qualifying. But who’ll come out on top when the session that counts gets under way later on? Join us at 1500 local time to find out.