Valtteri Bottas returned to lead the Formula 1 timesheet at Losail. This Saturday (20th) afternoon, the Finn was the fastest in the TL3 of the Qatar GP, recording 1min22s310 as the best lap, 0s078 ahead of his teammate, Lewis Hamilton.
Red Bull, on the other hand, showed strange rear wing behavior during DRS deployment both with Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez. The problem, which already appeared in Interlagos, was also reflected on the Friday of training in Qatar, which led the taurine team to work on the pieces until the beginning of training.
Verstappen finished third, 0s341 slower than Bottas, while Pierre Gasly, with AlphaTauri, reached the fourth fastest time at the end of the activities and surpassed the other Red Bull, from Pérez. Carlos Sainz, with Ferrari, was sixth, followed by Fernando Alonso, from Alpine. Esteban Ocon, teammate of the two-time champion, was eighth, while Charles Leclerc, from Ferrari, and Yuki Tsunoda, from AlphaTauri, closed the top ten.
The classification will take place soon, from 11:00 am (Brasilia time, GMT-3), always with live broadcasting by Band, the subscription channel BandSports and the streaming service F1 TV Pro. BIG PRIZE follow all track activities LIVE and in REAL TIME.
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Training has barely started and has already had a red flag. Nikita Mazepin, who accelerated on an old chassis after the replacement provided by Haas at the weekend, faced problems exiting the pit-lane and was stuck, prompting race management to stall the session. The Russian reported a “strange noise”, and the team asked the driver to stop the car right away.
The session resumed about five minutes later. The first driver to time this afternoon at Losail was Esteban Ocon, who turned 1min24s864. Then it was Lando Norris’s turn to make his first lap, 0.825 slower compared to the Alpine driver. Mercedes then sent its two drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, onto the track.
+Amidst the war, Mercedes and Red Bull face failures in an inconclusive day in Qatar
But the scene that caught the attention, even before the start of practice and into the session, was Red Bull mechanics working on the rear wing of Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez’s cars after the DRS of the two vehicles had problems and shook in a strange way on Friday, as has already happened in Brazil.
Without difficulty, the Mercedes cars jumped in front. With soft tyres, Valtteri Bottas turned 1min24s019, while Lewis Hamilton beat the Finn by a little soon after, spiking 1min23s950, 0s069 faster than his teammate.
The first Red Bull car to record time was Sergio Pérez. The Mexican had a better partial than the seven-time champion in the second sector, but passed fourth in the timesheet, which had other important changes. Fernando Alonso, who led the TL2 of the São Paulo GP, took the lead with 1min23s904. The two-time champion used medium tires. Ocon was fourth, behind Hamilton and Bottas and ahead of Carlos Sainz and Pérez.
Big name on Friday by placing AlphaTauri in second in the two free practices of the day, Pierre Gasly escaped and ran, in an incident without major consequences. Soon after, Bottas put in a good lap to spike 1min23s387. Hamilton was once again better than his teammate after scoring 1min23s152. Alonso was third and Gasly, after a good lap, appeared in fourth.
That’s when Verstappen left the pits to make his first quick laps. Even with traffic on the track, Max managed to leave both Mercedes behind on the timesheet, overtaking Hamilton by 0s031 and scoring 1min23s121. The upper fin of the Red Bull’s rear wing followed with a very strange movement when it was deployed.
At the start of the final half hour, three cars from three different teams occupied the top-3: Verstappen, Hamilton and Sainz, from Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari, respectively.
But the order in the timesheets changed again after very fast laps of Mercedes cars. Hamilton turned in 1min22s655 and resumed the lead in the practice session, but Bottas was even better, giving the change to the seven-times champion and turning in 1min22s573, 0s082 faster than Lewis. Verstappen improved his time slightly but placed third.
One of the teams’ biggest concerns was the damage to the floor of the cars, which was accentuated by the height of the zebras. Several drivers faced problems on stretches such as the exit from turn 15.
On the track, Ferrari played a good role and had fourth and fifth places in the table with Sainz and Charles Leclerc respectively, the two just ahead of Gasly’s AlphaTauri. McLaren was not doing well and occupied 17th and 18th positions with Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris.
In the final stretch of practice, Pérez returned to the track and moved up to third, soon overtaking his teammate. At that time, while Verstappen was still in the pits, Hamilton set about making the new best time of the weekend: 1min22s388. Among the McLaren duo, Ricciardo moved up to tenth and Norris to 13th. Another who improved was Gasly, who returned to a prominent position by advancing to sixth place.
Bottas was worse than Hamilton in the first sector, but progressed well throughout the lap in his last simulation at qualifying pace and set the fastest time on the last stretch of the track. Thus, the Finn returned to the lead in the table with 1min22s310, only 0s078 faster than the Briton.
With 6 minutes left in the TL3, Verstappen returned to the track, while Mercedes changed the front wing of Hamilton’s car. In his last qualifying simulation, Max was 0s2 slower than Bottas in the first sector, reduced the margin to 1s on the second stretch of the track and turned in 1min22s651, yet 0s341 slower than the #77 Mercedes.
Hamilton still started for a final quick lap attempt, but caught traffic ahead and was unable to improve his time. In this way, Bottas has established itself as the fastest TL3 in Qatar.
+Hamilton’s historic gesture flag in Interlagos was from a Verstappen fan
Formula 1 2021, Qatar GP, Losail, free training 3:
|3||M VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull Honda||1:22,651||+0.341||10|
|4||P GASLY||AlphaTauri Honda||1:22,835||+0.525||17|
|5||S PEREZ||Red Bull Honda||1:22,846||+0.536||14|
|7||F ALONSO||Alpine Renault||1:23,186||+0.876||13|
|8||AND OCON||Alpine Renault||1:23,209||+0.899||18|
|10||Y TSUNODA||AlphaTauri Honda||1:23,567||+1,257||20|
|11||D RICCIARDO||McLaren Mercedes||1:23,711||+1,401||14|
|12||S VETTEL||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:23,884||+1,574||17|
|14||G RUSSELL||Williams Mercedes||1:23,923||+1,613||17|
|15||L STROLL||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:24,154||+1,844||17|
|16||K RÄIKKÖNEN||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:24,246||+1,936||19|
|17||THE GIOVINAZZI||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:24,288||+1,978||17|
|18||NO LATIFI||Williams Mercedes||1:24.499||+2,189||15|
|19||M SCHUMACHER||Haas Ferrari||1:24,680||+2,370||20|
|20||N MAZEPIN||Haas Ferrari||1|
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