Lewis Hamilton took top spot in final practice for the FIA Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix, narrowly beating championship leader Max Verstappen by two tenths of a second. Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was third ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Pérez.
After heavy overnight rain the session was held in bright, warm sunshine. Despite the conditions the session was slow to get underway however with just the Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin circulating in the opening minutes. They were later joined by the Alpines of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon and it was the Spaniard to took P1 after their initial laps thanks to a time of 1:07.031s.
Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen briefly usurped that with a lap of 1:06.778 but his time was deleted and Ocon leapt ahead with a lap of 1:06.839s be3fore Alonso reclaimed top spot with a lap of 1:06.686s. Williams’ George Russell then went quickest thanks to a medium-tyre time of 1:06.454, but then as the session head towards the half-way mark the expected frontrunners began to emerge. Bottas went out on soft tyres and went fastest with a lap of 1:06.212. A second attempt then lowered the benchmark to 1:06.063.
Verstappen then appeared and with his first flying lap he took top spot thanks to a time of 1:05.571. Hamilton soon followed the Dutchman across the line and he took up residence in P2 ahead of Bottas with a lap of 1:05.900. Verstappen extended his run, however, and he lowered the benchmark to 1:04.971 before AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Red Bull driver Sergio Pérez jumped up to second and third respectively ahead of the Mercedes.
Hamilton found more time and reclaimed second place with a lap of 1:05.367, 0.396 behind Verstappen and Bottas emerged again to claim fourth place behind Gasly as the field returned to the pits to prepare for their qualifying simulations.
Bottas was the first to cross the line on new softs and he took P1 with a lap of 1:04.832s, before Hamilton set the session’s best time at a 1:04.369.
Verstappen was one of the last to undertake his quali sim but he did his first attempt left him two tenths of a second behind Hamilton. After a cool down lap he went for another flyer but could only improve 0.003s. His lap, however, was deleted for a track limits infringement at Turn 10.
With Hamilton secure in top spot ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, fourth place was taken by Pérez, with the Mexican was followed by Tsunoda and Gasly, with Charles Leclerc seventh for Ferrari ahead of Alonso. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was ninth while Sebastian Vettel finished 10th.
2021 FIA Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:04.369 19 241.495
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:04.573 0.204 16 240.732
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:04.832 0.463 25 239.770
4 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 1:05.026 0.657 21 239.055
5 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 1:05.150 0.781 23 238.600
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:05.298 0.929 22 238.059
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:05.340 0.971 21 237.906
8 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:05.400 1.031 24 237.688
9 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:05.445 1.076 18 237.524
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:05.492 1.123 20 237.354
11 Anotnio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:05.556 1.187 24 237.122
12 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:05.676 1.307 22 236.689
13 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:05.698 1.329 22 236.609
14 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:05.863 1.494 23 236.017
15 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:05.942 1.573 25 235.734
16 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:05.992 1.623 24 235.555
17 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:06.116 1.747 20 235.114
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:06.119 1.750 22 235.103
19 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:06.654 2.285 19 233.216
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 1:06.692 2.323 22 233.083