Max Verstappen took top spot in the final free practice session before Qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with the Dutchman almost half a second clear of the rest of the field.
The Red Bull Racing driver will be biding for a third consecutive pole position on Saturday afternoon after taking top spot in Qualifying for the final race of 2020 in Abu Dhabi and the first race of 2021 in Bahrain.
And he did his chances a world of good by putting behind the disappointment of missing most of Friday afternoon’s second session to technical issues by setting the pace with a lap of 1:14.958, 0.456 seconds clear of McLaren F1 Team’s Lando Norris.
Norris was just over a tenth of a second quicker than reigning World Champion and current championship leader Lewis Hamilton, with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team racer ending up third, just ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Pérez.
Charles Leclerc took fifth in the session for Scuderia Ferrari, just ahead of Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda’s Pierre Gasly, with both drivers having turns to sit at the top of the timing screens during the session. AlphaTauri will be happy though as the Gasly’s best time was set on the medium tyre compared to the soft of his rivals.
The second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jr. was seventh, with Valtteri Bottas down in eighth in the second Mercedes, with the German team appearing not to have great pace at this point of the weekend. However, knowing Mercedes, they have what it takes to rebound and fight for pole position with both cars in Qualifying.
Completing the top ten were the two Alpine F1 Team drivers, with Fernando Alonso getting ahead of team-mate Esteban Ocon late in the session by just 0.042 seconds. They both finished just ahead of the second AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda, with the Japanese racer just 0.002 seconds back of Ocon and 0.015 seconds clear of Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team’s Lance Stroll!
Daniel Ricciardo was only 0.008 seconds back on Stroll in the second McLaren but found himself thirteenth, with Sebastian Vettel fourteenth in the second Aston Martin ahead of Williams Racing’s George Russell and Uralkali Haas F1 Team’s Mick Schumacher.
Nicholas Latifi ended seventeenth despite causing a red flag midway through the session when he went off and hit the barrier at the Variante Villeneuve, but despite damaging his front wing, he was able to return to the pits and resume his session.
Antonio Giovinazzi suffered a late spin on the exit of the Tamburello chicane, but it was a difficult session for Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN as he could only manage eighteenth, just ahead of team-mate Kimi Räikkönen. Nikita Mazepin brought up the rear of the field in the second Haas.
Track limits were again a big talking point, with many drivers including pacesetter Verstappen losing times for going off track. It will be interesting to see how track limits affect Qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
Free Practice 3 Times
|1||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:14.958||18|
|2||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1:15.414||+0.456s||17|
|3||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:15.515||+0.557s||18|
|4||11||Sergio Pérez||MEX||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:15.551||+0.593s||18|
|5||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||1:15.738||+0.780s||21|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:15.890||+0.932s||22|
|7||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||1:15.908||+0.950s||21|
|8||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:15.908||+0.950s||19|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Alpine F1 Team||1:16.186||+1.228s||20|
|10||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||Alpine F1 Team||1:16.228||+1.270s||20|
|11||22||Yuki Tsunoda||JAP||Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda||1:16.230||+1.272s||20|
|12||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1:16.245||+1.287s||19|
|13||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1:16.253||+1.295s||17|
|14||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team||1:16.389||+1.431s||19|
|15||63||George Russell||GBR||Williams Racing||1:16.427||+1.469s||20|
|16||47||Mick Schumacher||GER||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1:16.448||+1.490s||22|
|17||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1:16.537||+1.579s||15|
|18||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ITA||Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen||1:16.612||+1.654s||22|
|19||7||Kimi Räikkönen||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen||1:16.803||+1.845s||23|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||RUS||Uralkali Haas F1 Team||1:17.398||+2.440s||23|