Formula 1

Verstappen leads third French GP practice by over seven tenths

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen set a scintillating pace in the final practice session ahead of the French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard, seven tenths clear of the lead Mercedes.

Key moments:

> Verstappen seven tenths clear of Bottas
> Sainz an impressive third-quickest for Ferrari
> Perez and Hamilton both almost one second down on Verstappen
> Alpine’s strong home weekend continues

Championship leader Verstappen was the early pacesetter in the session, eclipsing Valtteri Bottas’s best effort by just 0.009 seconds after the first flying laps on the soft tyres.

On the same set of tyres, Verstappen improved his lap by over two tenths but he ran wide over the white line before the left-hand Turn 7 kink and his fastest lap was deleted – although Verstappen insisted on the team radio “I swear that was still in”.

Meanwhile, Bottas had improved his lap and his 1m32.309s was just 0.028s quicker than Verstappen’s benchmark.

The gulf between Mercedes and Red Bull then blossomed in the final 15 minutes of the session with Verstappen improving to a 1m31.300s, to go 0.747s clear of Bottas.

Carlos Sainz was an impressive third-fastest for Ferrari – on pole for the last two races with his team-mate Charles Leclerc – while the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez was fourth-quickest but almost a second slower than Verstappen.

Also over a second adrift of Verstappen was his main title rival Hamilton, who rounded out the top five, some 0.966s away from the top of the timesheets.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was sixth-quickest ahead of Alpine drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.

The AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly was ninth-quickest, while Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10 for McLaren.

Leclerc couldn’t match the pace of his team-mate Sainz, over a second and a half adrift of Verstappen’s benchmark in 11th place.

The Aston Martins continued to struggle, with Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel recording the 13th- and 14th-fastest times respectively.

Nikita Mazepin was the first to fall foul of the circuit as he half-spun his Haas on the exit of Turn 2 just under 20 minutes into the session. He ended the session as the slowest driver.

Practice 3 Results

Pos Name Car Best Time Gap Leader
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1m31.3s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m32.047s +0.747s
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1m32.195s +0.895s
4 Sergio Pérez Red Bull-Honda 1m32.238s +0.938s
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m32.266s +0.966s
6 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m32.336s +1.036s
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1m32.624s +1.324s
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m32.681s +1.381s
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1m32.707s +1.407s
10 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1m32.759s +1.459s
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m32.82s +1.52s
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m33.017s +1.717s
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m33.051s +1.751s
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m33.2s +1.9s
15 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m33.328s +2.028s
16 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1m33.364s +2.064s
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1m33.424s +2.124s
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1m33.584s +2.284s
19 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1m34.143s +2.843s
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1m34.642s +3.342s
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