Saturday in Austin: Red Bull's work pays off, Mercedes misses the mark

24-10-2021 00:43
by GPblog.com
F1 News
Saturday in Austin: Red Bull's work pays off, Mercedes misses the mark

Red Bull Racing came back from a somewhat difficult start on Saturday before the United States Grand Prix. Not only Max Verstappen, but also Sergio Perez performed exceptionally well in Austin. Mercedes on the other hand seems to have taken a wrong turn after a strong start on Friday.

Mercedes disappoints in third free practice

On Friday everything pointed towards Mercedes dominating the weekend, but on Saturday the team missed the mark. While Verstappen and Perez were on top of the timesheet early in the third free practice, Mercedes dropped back to halfway the top ten.

At the end of VT3 Lewis Hamilton set a fast time, but it was taken away from him because he was exceeding track limits. The same was true for Verstappen, whose fastest time was also taken away. It was Perez who was the fastest man on track in both the second and third practice.

Besides Perez, Ferrari also had a surprise. Carlos Sainz parked his Ferrari between the Red Bulls in the last practice session and took second place. The Mercedes drivers had to settle for fifth place for Valtteri Bottas and sixth for Lewis Hamilton.

Verstappen makes comeback in qualifying

The results of the third free practice session were promising for Red Bull. Both drivers were also fast in Q1. Both Verstappen and Perez were on the track early on, avoiding traffic problems. Mercedes were again stuck on fifth and sixth place, while Ferrari impressed with a fastest time from Charles Leclerc.

In Q2, it was noticeable that almost everyone went out on mediums. The medium compound seems to be the most suitable tyre for the race on Sunday. The speed was much higher than in Q1, despite the fact that the drivers drove faster on a compound. For Pérez it was still tense, because after a time deleted by track limits he had to do a flying lap to ensure himself of a place in Q3. He succeeded in doing so by setting a seventh time.

In Q3, the tone was set by Red Bull. Hamilton and Bottas were early on the track this time and were the first to set fastest times, but it was Verstappen who dipped below them by almost three tenths. His time didn't last long though, as shortly afterwards Pérez raced to the provisional pole. Hamilton did not leave it at that and ventured another attack on the fastest time. He got it, but Verstappen knocked him off his throne in his last flying lap and took pole, meaning the rivals will start from the front row on Sunday.

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