Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen topped the timesheet in final practice for the Spanish Grand Prix beating Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by 0.235s with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
The one-hour session got off to a slow start, with just Alpine’s Fernando Alonso on track but eventually more cars appeared and Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi all enjoyed brief spells at the top of the table.
Leclerc, on soft tyres, then moved ahead with a lap of 1:18.997 and then worked his way down to 1:18.882 before the Mercedes cars appeared on track for the first time. Valtteri Bottas crossed the line ahead of Hamilton to set a new benchmark of 1:18.423 but the defending champion then edged past that marker with a lap of 1m18.304.
Verstappen then emerged for his first run of the day and he did so on medium tyres. The Dutch driver slotted into third place behind Bottas, 0.513s slower than Hamilton and with most of the deficit, around four tenths of a seconds, lost to the Mercedes in the final sector.
With the two-thirds mark in view, the field then retreated to the pit lane to prepare for qualifying simulations. Ferrari were the first to send their drivers out on new softs and Leclerc and Sainz took second and third places behind Hamilton.
The Mercedes drivers then emerged but initially neither made any gains, with Hamilton making a mistake in Turn 9 and then catching traffic later in the lap and Bottas also losing time in the final sector. Both continued their runs, however, and eventually Hamilton found time eventiually getting to 1:18.070 in the final 10 minutes.
Verstappen then appeared on softs and after a personal best in the first sector the Dutchman blazed through the second sector going almost half a second quicker than anyone in the middle part of the track. Late in the lap though he got oversteer in the final chicane and lost time but he still had enough in hand to beat Hamilton by 0.235s with a lap of 1:17.835.
Bottas’s failure to improve left him fifth behind the Ferraris while McLaren’s Lando Norris ended up sixth. Pierre Gasly was seventh for AlphaTauri, ahead of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Räikkönen. Pérez rounded out the top 10 in the second Red Bull, 0.7s slower than Verstappen.
2021 FIA Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 11 1:17.835
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 14 1:18.070 0.235
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 17 1:18.308 0.473
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 18 1:18.410 0.575
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 15 1:18.423 0.588
6 Lando Norris McLaren McLaren 14 1:18.494 0.659
7 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 17 1:18.535 0.700
8 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 21 1:18.582 0.747
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 18 1:18.597 0.762
10 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 16 1:18.606 0.771
11 Fernando Alonso Alpine18 1:18.662 0.827
12 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 21 1:18.673 0.838
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine 15 1:18.700 0.865
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 18 1:18.877 1.042
15 George Russell Williams 17 1:19.005 1.170
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 19 1:19.214 1.379
17 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 18 1:19.363 1.528
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams 16 1:19.392 1.557
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 17 1:19.999 2.164
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas 15 1:20.237 2.402