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F1 Saudi Arabian GP: Verstappen tops FP3 as Zhou crash causes red flag

Charles Leclerc finished second for Ferrari, with Sergio Perez third in the other RB20 and Carlos Sainz’s replacement, Oliver Bearman, taking 10th in the second of the Scuderia’s machines.

Sauber’s Valtteri Bottas ventured out on track first, with plenty of attention already on Bearman – a crowd of cameras and photographers clustered in front of what is now his garage.

Bottas posted the initial benchmark at 1m31.307s, with Bearman soon out behind him and also running the medium tyres.

He initially lapped nearly two seconds off Bottas’s pace, with Lewis Hamilton then beating the pair with a 1m30.793s on the soft tyres approaching the 10-minute mark.

Just past this, with Bearman’s second flier bringing him closer to the pace, Bottas re-took first place with a 1m30.770s, before Bearman pipped that with a 1m30.277s.

Hamilton, however, had also carried on for a second flier on his softs and he took this back to the top spot with a 1m30.253s as the opening quarter concluded, with most of pack still in the pits.

This did not include George Russell in the other Mercedes, as he was already out – also on the softs – but running a lower-downforce rear wing package compared to Hamilton.

Russell initially ran adrift of his team-mate and Bearman before he took the top spot with his second flier, which came in at 1m29.862s just before the 20-minute mark, after which Leclerc slotted the other Ferrari into second just 0.146s adrift on the medium tyres.

Zhou Guanyu, Sauber, Saudi Arabian GP

Zhou Guanyu, Sauber, Saudi Arabian GP

After this, the Red Bulls finally arrived in the fray, with Perez moving straight to the top of the times with a 1m29.562s on the soft tyres, with Verstappen’s first flier putting him second by 0.211s also on the red-walled rubber.

Approaching the end of FP3’s first half, Leclerc’s continued run on mediums took him to the top spot as his second flying effort came in at 1m29.206s, then as the clock ticked over the 30-minute mark, Verstappen’s second push lap on the softs meant he forged ahead with a 1m28.893s and a new 0.313s gap at the head of the times.

After two more cool-down laps on his first set of softs, Verstappen went for a third time with 25 minutes remaining and bettered his own benchmark with a 1m28.412s and an increased gap to Leclerc at the head of the rest at this stage of 0.794s.

Shortly after this – when Verstappen had joined many other cars in the pits but with the Dutchman complaining he had hit “something” possibly a “plastic bottle” with his right front at Turn 1 – Alonso popped his Aston Martin into third behind Leclerc and ahead of Kevin Magnussen.

The lull in action then got extended when Zhou crashed hard at Turn 8 – having lost the rear of his Sauber in Turn 7 and spun off backwards, the rear and left-hand side of the car badly damaged in the impact Zhou was quickly able to walk away from.

Zhou’s car was craned away within five minutes of his shunt occurring with 17 minutes of FP3 remaining, but the session only got going again with five minutes remaining.

The pack headed out en masse but as they crawled out of the pits on the softs, each of the 18 runners only got one flying lap.

Russell used his final flier to shoot up to second before he was deposed, first by Leclerc and then by Perez in ending up adrift of Verstappen’s leading time from much earlier.

As Lando Norris, Alonso, Lance Stroll, Oscar Piastri and Hamilton slotted into run behind Russell from fifth downwards, Verstappen completed his final flying lap last of the frontrunners.

For much of the lap, he looked like he would improve the first-place benchmark before Verstappen ended up losing time in the last sector and not bettering his personal best by 0.010s, which cemented his gap to Leclerc at 0.196s and 0.494s over Perez.

Bearman only got his softs run in that last-minute action – which was the case for Leclerc, Alonso and several others too – and he ended up 10th in the final FP3 order.

The late action only featured 18 runners because Logan Sargeant had damaged his FW44’s left-front trackrod when hitting the wall inside Turn 22 during the early running and he only completed 2 laps as a result, with no time set for the American.

Cla   Driver   Car / Engine   Time   Delay   Laps 
Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda RBPT 1’28.412   13
Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’28.608 0.196 16
Sergio Perez Red Bull/Honda RBPT 1’28.906 0.494 13
George Russell Mercedes 1’28.964 0.552 17
Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1’28.971 0.559 11
Fernando Alonso Aston Martin/Mercedes 1’29.038 0.626 14
Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1’29.127 0.715 14
Oscar Piastri McLaren/Mercedes 1’29.213 0.801 11
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’29.268 0.856 19
10  Ollie Bearman Ferrari 1’29.306 0.894 22
11  Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1’29.485 1.073 12
12  Pierre Gasly Alpine/Renault 1’29.546 1.134 13
13  Yuki Tsunoda RB/Honda RBPT 1’29.572 1.160 18
14  Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1’29.575 1.163 13
15  Nico Hulkenberg Haas/Ferrari 1’29.675 1.263 11
16  Daniel Ricciardo RB/Honda RBPT 1’29.740 1.328 15
17  Alexander Albon Williams/Mercedes 1’29.808 1.396 13
18  Valtteri Bottas Sauber/Ferrari 1’30.083 1.671 21
19  Zhou Guanyu Sauber/Ferrari 1’30.739 2.327 12
20  Logan Sargeant Williams/Mercedes 2’27.994 59.582 2

This article was originally published by a www.motorsport.com . Read the Original article here. .

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