The teams and drivers returned to the Algarve International Circuit this afternoon for a cloudy FP3 session with track temperatures 10 degrees cooler than was seen in FP2 on Friday.
In the final hour before Qualifying this afternoon, Max Verstappen led the pack with the fastest lap of 1:18.489s followed by Lewis Hamilton .236s off the pace and his Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas in third.
It was a quiet first ten minutes on track – first out was Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll followed by his four-time world champion teammate, Sebastian Vettel – who will be looking to improve the performance of the AMR21 after an underwhelming FP1 & 2.
Mick Schumacher in the Haas swiftly followed them out on track, alongside his Russian teammate Nikita Mazepin and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton – while the other 15 drivers remained in the pits at this point.
Both Haas drivers had moments going off-track in the opening minutes. Mick Schumacher losing grip and spinning off before successfully rejoining. Nikita Mazepin on the other hand continues to have issues clicking with his VF-21, with regular lock-ups and spins so far this season.
With 40 minutes left and 13 drivers now on track, Raikkonen went quickest with a 1:19.944, and was followed closely by Alonso’s Alpine just 0.005s off the pace.
However, normal order resumed at the top of the timesheets at the halfway mark when Hamilton lifted his W12 into the top spot in 1:18.735s, followed by Perez .105s off the leading pace. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was sitting in third at this point, proving the Ferrari has some great speed this weekend.
Meanwhile, Max Verstappen was in fourth, .406 off Hamilton’s fastest lap so far, with the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas sitting just behind in fifth.
Verstappen lowered the benchmark with 22 minutes to go after a lap in 1:18.545s, almost two-tenths ahead of Lewis Hamilton now.
The Dutchman remained in the top spot with just 10 minutes left on the clock after Hamilton seemed to back off in the final corners of his flying lap – he remained in second.
At the end of this weekend’s Practice, Verstappen went fastest, followed by the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Bottas, second and third fastest.
The second Red Bull of Sergio Perez was in fourth at the end of the session and was .351s off his leading teammate.
The Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were in P6 and P7 respectively this afternoon, behind the Alpine of Esteban Ocon in fifth.
Closing out the top ten fastest laps was McLaren’s Lando Norris in eighth, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in ninth, and Kimi Raikkonen in tenth in the Alfa Romeo.
The all-important Qualifying session will kick off at 3:00 pm today when the pecking order for tomorrow’s race will be decided.