FP3 Report | Red Bull Racing place another strong marker down in Bahrain

27-03-2021 13:00 | Updated: 27-03-2021 13:33
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FP3 Report | Red Bull Racing place another strong marker down in Bahrain

Max Verstappen has completed the practice triple after topping FP3 on Saturday afternoon. Red Bull Racing placed down another marker for a 2021 F1 title challenge, but Mercedes seem to building after both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton found themselves in the top two for a significant amount of time. Verstappen posted a 1:30.577, over half-a-second faster than Hamilton's best in P2. 

Mercedes struggled in the opening part of the session. Bottas had trouble finding grip and had multiple lap times deleted from running wide. Eventually, they found some speed but Hamilton looks far more comfortable in the W12 compared to his teammate. 

For most of the session, Verstappen and Red Bull opted to run the hard tyres. But for the final 10 minutes, the Austrian team gave a hint of what is to come in qualifying with the soft tyres. Verstappen stormed to the top and looked to have more time in the lap. Sergio Perez finished 5th. 

Early doors

For the first time this weekend, there wasn't a rush out of the pits as a result of the conditions. As the green flag dropped, the air temperature reached 38c, with the track temperature at 48c. Yuki Tsunoda became the first driver to emerge on the track but didn't set a timed lap in his first stint. 

With the temperatures providing unrealistic running conditions compared to qualifying later on Saturday afternoon, the track remained quiet for the majority of the opening 10 minutes. 

Mercedes watch

Bottas struggled out on the track. The car looked twitchy, and he was late on the power at some corners. He set a time in the 1:33's but it was deleted as he ran wide at turn four. The Finnish driver repeated this feat at turn four two more times. 

Hamilton looked far more confident in his car. The British driver was far more stable out on the track but didn't manage to set a lightning-fast time. Seemingly, the wind became a problem with Charles Leclerc having a spin a few others running wide at the same corner. The wind is expected to get stronger on Sunday. 

Meanwhile, Verstappen completed laps on the hard tyres and toppled Hamilton's fastest on the C4 softs.

Midfield

After two top-three finishes on Friday, Lando Norris and McLaren didn't look as strong in FP3. This time it was AlphaTauri who raised eyebrows. With 25 minutes remaining, Pierre Gasly posted the fastest time of the session at that point. Tsunoda also found himself deep inside the top ten. 

Alfa Romeo also look likely to emerge from Q1 later this afternoon. Kimi Raikkonen placed himself in P7 at the end of the session. Meanwhile, Alpine and Fernando Alonso's return looks set to disappoint. Once again, Alonso finished in the bottom five. 

In the final 20 minutes, the track temperature started to drop and the laps started to ramp up. First, the two Ferrari drivers set strong times to take control of the timesheets. Soon after, Bottas lifted himself from P20 to P2 and teammate Hamilton posted the then fastest time of the session. 

Red Bull emerged with the soft tyres for the final stages of FP3. Perez and Verstappen cruised around the Bahrain International Circuit on the out lap, hardly taking any life out of the tyres. Verstappen made an impression with a 1:30.577, 0.739 faster than Hamilton. 

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