Austrian GP FP3 Report: Hamilton Trails Verstappen Hours After Sealing Mercedes F1 Extension as Qualifying Beckons

Published 07/03/2021, 7:04 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 3, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during practice REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger


With an eye towards qualifying later today, drivers completed their final practice session at the Austrian Grand Prix. Along with putting in qualifying simulation laps, teams experimented the prototype tire Pirelli introduced for this weekend to work on their strategies.

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Max Verstappen stormed to the top of the timesheets by setting the only sub-65-second lap of the session. However, both Mercedes drivers put in excellent laps to finish just behind the Dutchman and ahead of Sergio Perez.

While the battle intensified at the front, Ferrari finished ahead of midfield to put down a marker for the midfield challengers.

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Verstappen sizzles as Perez struggles in FP3 at the Austrian Grand Prix

Despite Mercedes dominating the second practice session yesterday, Verstappen set the track alight with the quickest lap of the session. Although the Austrian outfit has an excellent car this season, Sergio Perez finished P7, almost a second behind his teammate.

Although Hamilton put in an impressive lap to close the gap, that lap got deleted due to track limits. Hence, the Briton finished P3 behind his teammate Valtteri Bottas, who put in a flying lap to take P2.

During the session, Sky Sports got to interact with Christian Horner. The Briton appreciated Hamilton’s merit for his contract extension while stating that talks with Perez will happen in due course.

While the battle for pole position looks to be between Verstappen and Hamilton, Bottas looks like a prime candidate as well.

AlphaTauri outshine midfield competitors

Pierre Gasly put in a stunning lap to finish P4, ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi. The Italian shocked the timesheets by finishing the session in P5, ahead of both Ferrari drivers.

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Carlos Sainz finished in P6 ahead of Fernando Alonso, who finished an excellent P8. Charles Leclerc finished P9 to round off an impressive session for Ferrari, while Sebastian Vettel led Lance Stroll to finish P10 and P11, respectively.

Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 3, 2021 Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc during practice REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Although McLaren finished far behind Ferrari, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo could make big gains in qualifying later today. Norris finished the session P15 ahead of his Australian teammate, who finished P16.

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With qualifying two hours from now, there could be some unexpected surprises on the grid. However, the battle for pole position looks set to be between Verstappen and Hamilton.

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Sanket Nair

351 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. A Sports Management student, he is a huge fan of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and hopes to see Red Bull break Mercedes' dominance and win the World Championship soon. Sanket has been hooked to the sport ever since he watched the battle for the 2010 World Championship go down to the wire at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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