The free practice 3 of the Dutch GP served for Max Verstappen to consolidate the condition of clear favorite not only to pole, but also to victory this weekend of Formula 1 in Zandvoort. In the session held at the end of the morning of this Saturday (4), the owner of the house left no stone unturned and, with a relentless return, nailed 1min09s623 and raised the huge ‘orange sea’, his fans in the stands of the coastal circuit. To get an idea of the dominance of the Red Bull driver, the difference to second place, Valtteri Bottas, from Mercedes, was 0s556.
Lewis Hamilton was even further behind. Third fastest, the seven-time world champion and championship leader was 0.794 off the time set by Verstappen. Sergio Pérez, the Dutchman’s teammate, was fourth fastest, 0s903 slower than Max. And Fernando Alonso, who confirmed Alpine’s great performance, was fifth after even leading the session for a few minutes.
Lando Norris placed McLaren in sixth, ahead of Lance Stroll’s Aston Martins and Sebastian Vettel, who did well this late morning as well. Charles Leclerc, the fastest Friday, was only ninth, while his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz crashed at Turn 3 and caused the only red flag of the day and fourth of the weekend. Pierre Gasly, with AlphaTauri, ended the session in tenth.
Formula 1 accelerates again this Saturday in Zandvoort for the classification that will define the starting grid of the Dutch GP. O BIG PRIZE follows everything LIVE and in REAL TIME.
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Find out about free practice 3 of the Dutch F1 GP
The session started with last-minute news. Alfa Romeo has selected Robert Kubica to step up in the wake of the Dutch GP weekend as a replacement for Kimi Räikkönen, who tested positive for Covid-19 and thus embezzles the Italian-Swiss team in Zandvoort.
With an ambient temperature of 16ºC and 26ºC on the track, the pilots left the pits for the opening of free practice. And Robert Kubica, aboard car #88, pulled in line this late morning in Holland.
Naturally, Kubica was the first driver to record a time on the TL3 in Zandvoort, but it was Lewis Hamilton, on soft tires, who took the lead in the session a short time later with the first competitive time of the activity: 1min12s010. Lewis was tasked with making up for lost time after completing just 3 laps in free practice 2 on Friday.
In the first minutes, the drivers were divided between the use of soft and medium tyres. It was with the yellow compounds that Fernando Alonso overcame Hamilton in 0s014 to take the lead in training with an Alpine that did very well on Friday’s work. Also with the middleweights, Lando Norris appeared in third, followed by Daniel Ricciardo and Antonio Giovinazzi, another one who did very well and scored two top-10 in Friday’s practice.
Alonso’s lead, however, did not last long. Hamilton scored 1min11s964 and regained the lead, but then the seven-times champion was overtaken by Charles Leclerc, the great leader of Friday’s timesheets. The Monegasque, who minutes earlier saw his brother Arthur win F3 race 1 at Zandvoort, led with 1min11s768. Carlos Sainz even scored the second time, but was surpassed by Norris.
Another change in the lead came shortly after Alonso improved his time and scored 1min11s705. Sebastian Vettel, in turn, made a small mistake on the asphalt, still with little grip in some points, escaped at turn 10 and went for a walk on the gravel, in an incident without major consequences.
Of all the drivers on the grid, the last to leave the pits was the homeowner. Still from the pits, Max Verstappen saw Sergio Pérez move up to third. As he was getting ready to hit the track, the Dutchman also saw Carlos Sainz escape in a rather strange way, spin and crash into the protective barrier at turn 3. Red flag at Zandvoort, the fourth of the weekend.
The session was resumed when there were less than 30 minutes left. And Verstappen pulled the line in the pit-lane to have a clear track on his first fast lap of the day. With medium tyres, the runner-up in the championship and big favorite over the weekend in Holland scored 1min11s225 and took the lead in the session with a big lap even in the middle of traffic.
Then, however, Valtteri Bottas scored 1min11s217, but with soft tires. But the Finn’s position as leader didn’t last more than a few seconds, as Verstappen made the change and surpassed the #77 car mark in 0s515 to retake the lead in the practice session with 1min10s702, the best time of the weekend so far. Also at that moment, Lando Norris appeared in second, with his McLaren paved with soft tires and Pierre Gasly came in fourth.
The teams continued the simulations at a classification pace. Alonso, in great form on soft tyres, surpassed the Verstappen mark in 0s032 and took the lead from the host in Zandvoort. Then, it was Norris’ turn to improve to move up to third, 0s111 slower than the two-time world champion. Much further back, the position of Lewis Hamilton, only ninth place, ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo, drew attention.
Esteban Ocon, winner of the Dutch GP, showed that Alpine’s pace was very good with both cars. The French placed fourth before being overtaken by Daniel Ricciardo, who showed that McLaren was also doing well as a whole over the weekend in Holland.
But there was still time for more leadership changes. In qualifying pace, Bottas spiked 1min10s179 and surpassed Alonso’s mark in 0s491 to put Mercedes in front. The one-two set with Hamilton in second, 0s238 behind his teammate’s time. At that moment, in the final minutes of the session, Red Bull put on soft tires for Verstappen to do their last qualifying simulation.
And there was no one for anyone: the local hero finally managed to nail a clean lap and left no stone unturned to record 1min09s623 and confirm not only the best TL3 record, but establish himself as the big favorite to pole soon in Zandvoort.
Formula 1 2021, Netherlands GP, Zandvoort, free practice 3:
|1||M VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull Honda||1:09,623||12|
|4||S PEREZ||Red Bull Honda||1:10.526||+0.903||19|
|5||F ALONSO||Alpine Renault||1:10.670||+1,047||15|
|7||L STROLL||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:10.842||+1,219||18|
|8||S VETTEL||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:10.872||+1,249||19|
|10||P GASLY||AlphaTauri Honda||1:11.005||+1,382||20|
|11||D RICCIARDO||McLaren Mercedes||1:11.013||+1,390||18|
|12||NO LATIFI||Williams Mercedes||1:11.083||+1,460||18|
|13||AND OCON||Alpine Renault||1:11.180||+1,557||22|
|14||G RUSSELL||Williams Mercedes||1:11.274||+1,651||19|
|15||THE GIOVINAZZI||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:11.299||+1,676||19|
|17||Y TSUNODA||AlphaTauri Honda||1:11.980||+2,357||28|
|18||N MAZEPIN||Haas Ferrari||1:12.136||+2,513||22|
|19||R KUBICA||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:12.162||+2,539||27|
|20||M SCHUMACHER||Haas Ferrari||1:12,366||+2,743||19|