United States GP FP3 Report: Red Bull Charges With New Speed As Mercedes Bows to Conditions

Published 10/23/2021, 3:09 PM EDT
Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 23, 2021 Red Bull’s Sergio Perez during practice REUTERS/Brian Snyder


A final round of data collection and test of pace, the final practice session kicked off a sunny Saturday at the United States GP. Friday’s sessions affirmed Mercedes was the fastest team on the track. However, after Sergio Perez topped the sheets on Friday, Saturday was for ABC.

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Texan heat struck again as temperatures rose as the session progressed. The wind picked up pace as well, making Turn 1 a spot to monitor. The crosswinds also added to the spins in the earlier parts of the session.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 23, 2021 Red Bull’s Sergio Perez during practice REUTERS/Mike Blake

Track limits played the role of the devil, as drivers found it difficult to stay within the line at Turn 19; this resulted in frequently deleted laps.

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Nonetheless, Red Bull came back with raging speed, with Perez taking P1, Carlos Sainz 0.104s behind him. Max Verstappen finished third ahead of Lando Norris, as Valtteri Bottas rounded up the top five. Lewis Hamilton just missed the top 5, as he finished behind his teammate.

Looking over the final practice session

The winding tracks put up a tough challenge for the drivers. Valtteri Bottas spun off the tracks at Turn 6- a corner being observed by the FIA for track limits. George Russell soon joined the Finn, spinning off on Turn 5 minutes later.

Fernando Alonso, who faced engine issues in FP1 and a collision in FP2, has had some work done on his Alpine. Taking a new PU, he joins the list of drivers taking a penalty and will join Vettel and Russell at the back of the grid.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 23, 2021 Alpine’s Fernando Alonso during practice REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Soft tires solidified their importance on the track; after two sessions of expeditious pace on the C4, FP3 confirmed what the teams already knew. The session also adds to the speculation of a two-stop race on Sunday. Therefore, teams were wary of how much they used their tires; the high temperatures caused extensive degradation over the weekend.

Red Bull and Mercedes compete for upper hand at United States GP

Once again, Red Bull and Mercedes scuffled for the top positions, a jig that ended with a Raging Bull on top.

Mercedes had fixed their Friday woes. Having found the drivability they need, qualifying looks promising for the team. However, with the way the session went, the track conditions may have slowed the team down. As it is the qualifying time that matters, it will be interesting to see if track limits and conditions favor the team this time around.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – October 23, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during practice REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Red Bull, too, had fixed their messy setup from the previous sessions and had finally adapted to a rhythm that worked for them. Having found pace, there was a time in the session where the team sat 1-2; Checo was only 0.001 seconds shy of his teammate.

As the session progressed, the Milton Keynes team got more comfortable, having their car set the benchmark only proving so.

Midfield battle continues at Austin

Ferrari had a strong start to the session; the duo sat third and fourth on the timesheets. While the Papaya pair were comfortable with their pace, Ferrari often jumped around the timesheets ahead of them.

Further, Carlos Sainz outpaced Friday’s benchmark set by Bottas. With 18 minutes left in the session, the Spaniard put his red car on top with 1m 34.805s. Having set consistent green sectors, Sainz and Norris competed for pace in the session.

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However, the Prancing Horse of Sainz finished second, two spots ahead of the Brit. Although, Daniel Ricciardo outpaced Charles Leclerc who finished ninth on the timesheets.

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As the protagonists of the season continue to prove their pace, a very crucial qualifying session is on its way. Who will take pole position? Will it be a Red Bull front-row lockout or will we have a surprise pole-sitter for the United States GP? It’s only a matter of time before the mystery unfolds at the Circuit of The Americas.

Watch this story: F1 Drivers Fighting on Track

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Shreya Sanjeev

612 articles

Shreya Sanjeev is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having attained a journalism degree from St Xavier's College, she finds comfort in the sound of her keyboard while typing and excitement in the sound of F1 cars speeding on a track. A street circuit and Daniel Ricciardo fan through and through, Shreya claims the 2018 Monaco GP to be one of her favorite races of all time.

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