To the delight of his home fans, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen laid down a big marker ahead of qualifying for the Dutch Grand Prix, going fastest in Free Practice 3 by over half a second from the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, as Lewis Hamilton took third.
On his first flying lap on soft tyres near the end of the 60-minute session, Verstappen set a blistering pace in the first two sectors, going purple in both before his conveniently-placed team mate Sergio Perez towed him neatly over the line to complete a clean sweep of fastest sector times.
That may have flattered Verstappen’s stunning time of 1m 09.623s a touch, but still put him a full 0.556s ahead of the Mercedes of Bottas.
Hamilton, meanwhile, was a further two-tenths behind his team mate in third, the seven-time champion making up for time lost during his FP2 stoppage, and with the engine he used last weekend at Spa now powering his Mercedes W12 as a replacement for his Friday unit.
Perez wound up P4, 0.903s behind his team mate, and just a tenth ahead of the impressively-placed Alpine of Fernando Alonso.
FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN DUTCH GRAND PRIX 2021
Practice 3 results
|1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing||1:09.623|
|2 Valtteri BOTTAS Mercedes||+0.556s|
|3 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes||+0.794s|
|4 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing||+0.903s|
|5 Fernando ALONSO Alpine||+1.047s|
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, completed just five laps in FP3 before he lost the rear end coming out of Turn 2, slewing across the track before making a heavy impact with the banked Turn 3 wall and bringing out the fourth red flag of the weekend so far – with Ferrari now facing a stiff challenge to get the Spaniard’s SF21 fixed in time for qualifying, as Sainz ended up P16.
Behind Alonso, McLaren’s Lando Norris survived a trip through the Turn 9 gravel to end up P6, ahead of the Aston Martin pairing of Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel – Vettel enduring his own trip into the gravel at Turn 10 after being caught out by a tail wind.
The second Ferrari of Charles Leclerc was ninth, Leclerc running off track at Turn 11 on a final quick lap, and finishing ahead of the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly who took P10.