After a pretty slow start of his season, on Friday, Valtteri Bottas topped both sessions for a resurgent Mercedes. However, today Max Verstappen is the real protagonist as he tops FP3 by a huge margin.
FP3 was characterized by several incidents and a brief red flag, as well as a plethora of times deleted for various track limits breaches as the drivers built up to the limit ahead of qualifying.
Lewis 🤝 VB— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) April 17, 2021
Having laptimes deleted
The session was also briefly suspended by a red flag after Nicholas Latifi lost the rear of his Williams shooting through the Villeneuve chicane and as a result, he skated through the gravel on the exit and knocked off the left side of his front wing.
As soon as the action resumed, Dutchman Max Verstappen claimed the top spot on his first flying lap – a place he seems not to be willing to give up this year.
Qualifying later this afternoon is set to be promising. Indeed, while it is Verstappen with the lead, wounding up the session 0.456s ahead of second-place Lando Norris, followed by Hamilton and Perez, with Leclerc fifth for Ferrari.
Norris looks quick again as he did in Bahrain. Leclerc is again within touching distance, and Gasly can't be discounted after choosing to focus on the medium tyres for much of that session.
Sainz took the seventh position, with Bottas shuffled down to eighth ahead of the Alpine duo – Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
Ricciardo ended the session in P13 with some margin to his faster teammate Lando Norris. Lance Stroll was the top Aston Martin runner in P12 just behind the angry rookie Yuki Tsunoda, who was disappointed by traffic in the closing minutes.
Sebastian Vettel seems to be still adjusting to his Aston Martin and finishes P14, while Williams, Alfa Romeo and the Haas cars filled the final six spots.
Both Alfa Romeo drivers didn't have a good session - both had moments and sampled the gravel traps, wounding up in P18 and P19. The team certainly looked to have improved over the Winter, but with Williams also looking good, it could be tight up and down the field.