The battle between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton continued in the third and final practice session with the Dutchman beating the Briton for glory in the last practice ahead of afternoon's qualifying. Alpine continued to impress with their updated package with Esteban Ocon ending up fifth fastest.
At the beginning of the session, the sky was covered with clouds and temperatures were peaking at only 16 degrees centigrade.
The first drivers to take it to the track were the Haas F1 Team’s juniors with Mick Schumacher posting the first timed lap of the day with a 1m23.026 on Pirelli’s medium compound. Despite a spin, the German improved his time to a 1m21.776.
With 47 minutes left on the clock, the action intensified by more drivers heading out to the 4.6km Algarve circuit. Yuki Tsunoda took over the lead only to lose it to Kimi Räikkönen a moment later. The Japanese was then able to register a 1m20.161 on the yellow-banded Pirelli tyre with the early lap times indicating that track conditions including grip level and wind conditions having improved for Saturday.
With 35 minutes left, the Michael Masi-led race direction deployed virtual safety car which forced several drivers, including Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen to abort their first real push lap.
After the first runs, Hamilton found himself atop the leaderboard with a time of 1m18.735, followed by Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc who were a tenth and two tenths of a second down on the benchmark respectively. However, Max Verstappen decided to rejoin the track with the same set of softs he used during his first stint. The Hasselt - born managed to take over the lead.
With 21 minutes left, drivers started to hit the track with their second fresh set of tyres. The majority of drivers found it difficult to improve their previous lap times with only the Alpine driver Esteban Ocon and Haas junior Mick Schumacher finding significant improvement on their previous best times.
When the chequered flag fell, Verstappen found himself atop with the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Bottas finishing just narrowly behind the Imola race winner. Despite his difficulties on the soft compound on the opening day, Sergio Perez completed a more promising day, ending up fourth fastest with his updated RB16.
Ferrari drivers completed a series of laps on their second compound without losing too much grip, demonstrating the durability of Pirelli's soft compound and also indicating that the Milan-based tyre supplier applied a slightly conservative approach when deciding for the trio of C1-C3 for this weekend.
McLaren finished only 8th and 12th fastest, but their Imola performance showed that the Woking-based outfit tend to hold their outright performance back in practice. Alfa Romeo's Kimi Räikkönen posted eye-catching times across the whole length of the session, using the soft compound for both his stints.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:18.489||-||21|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:18.840||+0.351s||24|
|5||31||Esteban Ocon||ALPINE RENAULT||1:18.860||+0.371s||19|
|8||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||1:19.272||+0.783s||18|
|9||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:19.374||+0.885s||25|
|10||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:19.415||+0.926s||25|
|11||22||Yuki Tsunoda||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:19.485||+0.996s||25|
|12||3||Daniel Ricciardo||MCLAREN MERCEDES||1:19.582||+1.093s||19|
|13||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:19.588||+1.099s||23|
|14||14||Fernando Alonso||ALPINE RENAULT||1:19.949||+1.460s||20|
|15||47||Mick Schumacher||HAAS FERRARI||1:20.033||+1.544s||21|
|16||18||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES||1:20.090||+1.601s||17|
|17||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:20.127||+1.638s||18|
|18||5||Sebastian Vettel||ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES||1:20.214||+1.725s||21|
|19||6||Nicholas Latifi||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:20.681||+2.192s||19|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||HAAS FERRARI||1:20.690||+2.201s||20|