Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen ended the final practice session for the Dutch Grand Prix on top with an eye-catching lap time. The Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton finished P2 and P3 respectively.
After the incident-filled opening day at Zandvoort, drivers were eager to get more familiar with the challenging track that is set to host the 31st Dutch Grand Prix tomorrow. Lewis Hamilton is usually among the drivers who join the action in Free Practice 3 later, but the defending champion was in a rush to get his day underway after oil system problems forced him into an early end to his afternoon practice yesterday.
Yesterday’s session saw three red flag periods due to incidents involving Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Nikita Mazepin. The interrupted rhythm continued today when Carlos Sainz lost the rear end of his Ferrari SF21 coming into Turn 2. The Spaniard, who has just turned 27 this week, made a heavy impact with the banked Turn 3 with his car having sustained a significant amount of damage.
Carlos Sainz loses the rear and hits the wall on the entry to Turn 3— Formula 1 (@F1) September 4, 2021
Thankfully he is okay and gets out of his car. We are now under a red flag whilst we wait for the track to be cleared#DutchGP 🇳🇱 #F1 pic.twitter.com/PQCVaVpZQC
When the action continued, the field was quickly back on the track with Verstappen still without a timed lap. The Dutchman had a bit of a scare ahead of the session as he was summoned to the stewards for a possible red flag infringement that happened in Free Practice 2 for the Dutch Grand Prix.
But after hearing the evidence, the stewards ruled that the matter wouldn’t be pursued further, writing in their verdict: “It is our conclusion that [Verstappen] took every reasonable action to comply with the regulations in that he immediately reduced speed in a safe manner at the earliest opportunity upon the first indication of the red flag, even before a red flag or red light panel was visible to him.”
Verstappen used the medium compound for his first stint before conducting a low-fuel qualifying simulation. On his first flying lap on soft tyres near the end of the 60-minute session, Verstappen set a blistering pace, posting the fastest lap time of the weekend with a 1m09.623s.
The Dutchman was followed by the Mercedes duo with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton registering the second and third fastest lap respectively. After a difficult opening day, Sergio Perez showed signs of improvements in the final practice, but he was still almost a second shy of his team mate’s benchmark.
The fight in the midfield looked as closely matched as ever with Alpine, McLaren, Aston Martin, Ferrari and AlphaTauri showing very similar pace. Of these teams, Ferrari was the surprise as the Scuderia presented itself in a less convincing fashion than it did yesterday, which indicated that the Maranello-based team has either taken a bad direction in terms of setup changes or it was running a more powerful engine mode yesterday than its direct rivals.
One of the big news stories on Saturday morning was that Kimi Raikkonen had been side-lined after testing positive for Covid-19, his place was taken by Robert Kubica. The Alfa Romeo Racing’s reserve driver did no mistakes on the challening Zandvoort circuit, racking up a total of 27 laps. The Krakow-born driver ended up P19, setting a time of 1m12.162 that was nine tenths of a second slower than what his team mate Antonio Giovinazzi was able to achieve.
After a mistake on his last hot lap, Mick Schumacher ended up last in P20 with his Russian team mate Nikita Mazepin taking 18th in the final practice ahead of the all-important qualifying session.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:09.623||13|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:10.526||+0.903s||19|
|5||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:10.670||+1.047s||16|
|6||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:10.781||+1.158s||18|
|7||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:10.842||+1.219s||19|
|8||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:10.872||+1.249s||20|
|10||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||1:11.005||+1.382s||21|
|11||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:11.013||+1.390s||19|
|12||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:11.083||+1.460s||19|
|13||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:11.180||+1.557s||23|
|14||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:11.274||+1.651s||20|
|15||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:11.299||+1.676s||19|
|17||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||1:11.980||+2.357s||29|
|18||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:12.136||+2.513s||22|
|19||88||Robert Kubica||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:12.162||+2.539s||27|
|20||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:12.366||+2.743s||19|