AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly came out on top of the action-packed third and final practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix which incorported a series of incidents including a slow-speed crash for Max Verstappen.
When drivers rolled out on to the Baku street circuit, the majority of them complained about the lack of grip which was interesting to hear given the fact that the first F2 race took place just an hour ahead of the third F1 practice session.
With teams pondering about the best tyre allocation, Red Bull sent their drivers out on the white-marked hard compound. While both Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen set credible lap times on the hardest compound of Pirelli’s five-tyre range, the Dutchman was just too ambitious into Turn 15 and crashed his Red Bull RB16B into the barriers, causing excessive damage to the front right corner of his car.
While Charles Leclerc could limp back to the pits following a similar incident yesterday, the suspension damage forced the Monaco race winner to park his car at Turn 15 which brought a premature end to the vital session just two hours ahead of the qualifying session. The session was red-flagged.
Mercedes continued to struggle in the early stages of the session despite intense setup analysis carried out overnight with both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas languishing down at the back end of the field.
George Russell encountered issues related to the power unit of his car with only about ten minutes left on the clock. He managed to coast down the escape road at Turn 1 and park behind the barriers, which meant that only the virtual safety car was requiered rahter than a second red flag. Before pulling out of his car, he complained about a lack of gears moments.
The final minutes saw many position changes as drivers were keen to get the best out of the session on the challenging Baku track. Despite being on six-lap-old tyres, Pierre Gasly went top after setting purple first and second sectors, beating FP2 pace-setter Sergio Perez by no less than 0.344s.
Mercedes managed to improve in the dying minutes of the session as well. Bottas secured a P13 while his team mate Hamilton recorded a much more respectable third, albeit with the help of a huge tow from Perez in the final sector.
Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz ended up only fourth and fifth fastest, albeit both of them were among the first drivers to hit the track with the second set of fresh tyres, indicating that there is more to come from the fabled Scuderia.
|1||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:42.251||16|
|2||11||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:42.595||+0.344s||19|
|6||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||1:43.011||+0.760s||15|
|7||14||Fernando Alonso||ALPINE RENAULT||1:43.080||+0.829s||15|
|8||22||Yuki Tsunoda||ALPHATAURI HONDA||1:43.244||+0.993s||19|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||ALPINE RENAULT||1:43.294||+1.043s||15|
|10||3||Daniel Ricciardo||MCLAREN MERCEDES||1:43.557||+1.306s||17|
|11||5||Sebastian Vettel||ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES||1:43.585||+1.334s||13|
|12||18||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES||1:43.682||+1.431s||13|
|14||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:43.826||+1.575s||17|
|15||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:43.984||+1.733s||6|
|16||6||Nicholas Latifi||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:44.054||+1.803s||17|
|17||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:44.113||+1.862s||11|
|18||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:44.434||+2.183s||12|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||HAAS FERRARI||1:45.282||+3.031s||17|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||HAAS FERRARI||1:45.711||+3.460s||12|