Red Bull and Mercedes resumed their tussle on Saturday at the Algarve circuit with Max Verstappen coming out on top in the third and final practice hour.
After Friday’s blue skies, the clouds gathered over the Algarve circuit ahead of FP3 for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Haas’ rookies were the first out, Mick Schumacher getting the timesheet rolling with a 1:23.026 on his first flying lap, and a spin on next. His team-mate Nikita Mazepin, his Haas decked with pads to support his neck, was almost two seconds down as the Russian rookie’s struggles continued. Schumacher lowered the benchmark to a 1:21.776 with Mazepin closing the gap to seven-tenths.
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Kimi Raikkonen was the first driver to lose a lap time for exceeding track limits, the Alfa Romeo driver running wide. 65 times were deleted on Friday alone with the FIA also overnight clarifying the limits for Turn 5 to prevent any confusion later in the weekend.
Half the field set times in the first 20 minutes with Yuki Tsunoda P1 and his AlphaTauri team-mate Pierre Gasly in P10.
Meanwhile Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was running blind with his dashboard not working but that didn’t stop him from going quickest ahead of Charles Leclerc. And with that the Mercedes team-mates joined the action as did their main rival, Max Verstappen.
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Their first flying laps were cut short when the Virtual Safety Car was shown after the wind blew over one of the advertising hoardings at the final corner. Two stewards ran onto the track to retrieve the debris.
A minute later the track was clear and Bottas, Verstappen and Hamilton were back up to speed and looking to do their first flying laps of the session. Verstappen did a 1:19.141, Bottas a 1:19.195 and Hamilton had his time deleted for track limits. His next put him P1, a 1:18.755, a tenth up on Sergio Perez.
Raikkonen joined the list of spinners on the slippery track, doing a full 360′ at Turn 8, while Verstappen wasn’t entirely happy with his title rival, asking why Hamilton “backs up so much” when he “has enough space”. That backing up clearly worked for Hamilton as he lowered the benchmark but it was Verstappen who was on top with 20 to go, a 1:18.545 for the Red Bull driver.
As has become the norm, the bulk of the field returned to the pits with 20 minutes to go, put on a new set of soft tyres and switched their focus on a qualifying simulation. Lando Norris spun at Turn 3 to ruin his hot lap with Mazepin also going around and off into the gravel.
Verstappen came out on top with a 1:18.489. Hamilton was second, two-tenths down, with Bottas third.
Perez was fourth ahead of Ocon, Leclerc, Sainz and Norris. Pierre Gasly and Raikkonen completed the top ten.
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:18.489 20 laps
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.236s 19 laps
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.331s 17 laps
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull 0.351s 23 laps
5 Esteban Ocon Alpine 0.371s 17 laps
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.512s 21 laps
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.628s 22 laps
8 Lando Norris McLaren 0.783s 16 laps
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 0.885s 24 laps
10 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 0.926s 24 laps
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 0.996s 24 laps
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.093s 17 laps
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1.099s 22 laps
14 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1.460s 19 laps
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1.518s 15 laps
16 Mick Schumacher Haas 1.544s 20 laps
17 George Russell Williams 1.638s 16 laps
18 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1.725s 19 laps
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 2.192s 17 laps
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas 2.201s 20 laps