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REPORT: Max Verstappen fastest in FP3 at the Portuguese Grand Prix

REPORT: Max Verstappen fastest in FP3 at the Portuguese Grand Prix

01-05-2021 13:15
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Cameron Smith

The title fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton is heating up, and in FP3 of the Portuguese Grand Prix, it was the Dutchman who took the bragging rights. Of course, practice doesn't mean all that much, but it gives a great indication for what will follow in qualifying and the race. Verstappen set a 1:18.489 to go quickest in the session, with Hamilton in P2 with his time of 1:18.725.

Valtteri Bottas ended the session in P3, after languishing around 5th and 6th for much of FP3. He was 0.02 seconds quicker than Sergio Perez and whilst the battle between Verstappen and Hamilton may commence for P1, this battle of the 'back-up drivers' could be just as interesting.

Alpine look better:

After a discouraging start to the 2021 season, Alpine appear to have made some improvements ahead of this weekend's race. Esteban Ocon was quickest with a time of 1:19.672 after half of the session, and by the end of FP3 the Frenchman was in P5, competing with Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari.

His teammate struggled in comparison, with Fernando Alonso ending the session in 14th place; it's not been an easy transition back in Formula 1 for the two-time world champion.

He would, however, have gone third quickest with 15 minutes left if he didn't have a lap time deleted for track limits, so it's clear that he does have the pace.

With Ocon's speed so evident, however, the French team will be hoping that just like last year, they can have a solid performance in Sunday's race.

Ferrari to compete for a podium?

It's been an excellent start to 2021 for the Prancing Horses, and this weekend looks set to be yet another race that goes their way. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz seem to have a great off-track rapport, and on track, they've both impressed. Leclerc ended the session in P6, and Sainz was only a little off his teammate in 7th, and he was excellent here last year, taking the lead of the race on lap two, and he'll be hoping for a similar performance on Sunday.

Problems for Norris?

2021 has been a breeze so far for Lando Norris, but this weekend has been far from easy so far. The young Brit is currently P3 in the Drivers' Championship, but Portimao has not treated him well so far. He finished FP2 in P12, and was in the lower echelons for much of FP3, before finishing in P8. He'll be hoping the qualifying goes much smoother; will he make it into Q3?

His teammate Daniel Ricciardo looked quicker than Norris, but actually ended the session behind the Brit, in P12.

So far, so bad for Aston Martin:

After challenging for P3 in the Constructors' Championship last year under the name of Racing Point, Aston Martin have seemingly taken a step back this year, and this was shown in FP3.

Lance Stroll ended the session in a lowly P16, with Sebastian Vettel in P18. Even Stroll was nearly half a second off Kimi Raikkonen in P10, so they could face a struggle to even get out of Q1!

Alfa Romeo could compete:

With Raikkonen in 10th, and Antonio Giovinazzi in 13th, Alfa Romeo could well be competing for a spot in Q3; it seems that roles have been reversed between Alfa and Aston Martin.

Mick Schumacher is getting to grips with F1:

The Haas rookie is slowly getting used to his F1 car, and the young driver went P15 in FP3, ahead of both Aston Martin cars! His time of 1:20.033 was nearly two tenths quicker than Vettel and was over six tenths quicker than his teammate Nikita Mazepin.

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