FP3: Verstappen heads a Red Bull 1-2 in the rain

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen practice. Belgium August 2021

Max Verstappen exits the pit lane in practice for the Belgian GP. Belgium August 2021

Max Verstappen topped final practice for the Belgian Grand Prix, clocking a :56.924 to beat his team-mate Sergio Perez by a second in the wet at Spa.

Although the morning’s heavy rain let up ahead of FP3, it was a very wet start to the session and one that saw a yellow flag almost immediate as George Russell locked up on his inters at the Bus Stop chicane and ran off the track. He completed his second lap, a 2:05.546.

Nikita Mazepin was also sliding off the circuit despite Haas opting for the full wets to start with for its rookie drivers.

But it wasn’t just the youngsters making mistakes with Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas also flying off the track as did Lewis Hamilton, who complained “left brake not working that well”.

The reigning World Champion’s next lap was a 1:57.996, putting him P1 ahead of Lando Norris and Perez.  Verstappen was only seventh quickest after his first flying lap, two seconds off the pace.

Hamilton improved to a 1:57.996, Perez moved up to second and Verstappen got it wrong and rode the kerbs before bouncing back with a 1:56.924 to lead the way after 20 minutes.

The Dutchman was running a skinnier rear wing than he had done on Friday.

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Charles Leclerc, down in 14th place in his new chassis after damaging his first in an FP2 crash, wasn’t happy.

“We need to do something with the front tyres,” he said. “I can’t go quicker like this. I got so much understeer. Can you try something with the tyres?” He was told to box.

Daniel Ricciardo was told to expect an increase in rain, which was followed by a race amongst the fans to get their brollies up, while over at Alfa Romeo, Kimi Raikkonen’s mechanics worked on his C41 after the Finn complained that he had no brakes.

With more rain falling most of the field returned to the pits with Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso and the two Ferraris continuing to lap the circuit. In the ever-changing Spa-Francorchamps weather, the rain let up with 15 minutes to go but the wet track meant the timesheet had already been set with Verstappen finishing P1, 0.947s ahead of Perez, with Hamilton third, 1.072s down.

Verstappen decided to call it a day early, already in the Red Bull hospitality as Alonso went straight on at Les Combes, Hamilton also got it wrong at the chicane and Pierre Gasly had a spin exiting Turn 14.

Lando Norris put on the slicks for the final three minutes, almost spinning as he left the pit lane. His middle sector alone was a 73s. He boxed.


1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:56.924
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 0.947s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.072s
4 Lando Norris McLaren 1.585s
5 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1.989s
6 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 2.281s
7 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 2.400s
8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 2.512s
9 George Russell Williams 2.568s
10 Fernando Alonso Alpine 2.689s
11 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 2.884s
12 Nicholas Latifi Williams 3.057s
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 3.532s
14 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 3.825s
15 Mick Schumacher Haas 4.345s
16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 4.446s
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 4.586s
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 4.588s
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas 4.868s
20 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 7.458s