Max Verstappen exceeded the times for Red Bull and delivered a reality check for Mercedes newcomer George Russell in the third and final free practice on Saturday at the Sakhir Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Dutchman delivered a best lap of 54. 064 seconds on the fast, short « outside loop » of the Bahrain International Circuit in front of Valtteri Bottas from Mercedes and Pierre Gasly from Alpha Tauri.
Russell, who was sacked by Williams to replace the coronavirus victim and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton in the title-winning Mercedes team, failed to repeat his impressive Friday form as he led both sessions.
He ended up in seventh place in the second Red Bull behind fourth-placed Esteban Ocon from Renault, Lando Norris from McLaren and Alexander Albon, after swapping the fastest laps with Bottas at the beginning of practice.
Sergio Perez was eighth ahead of his Racing Point teammate Lance Stroll and McLaren’s Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz.
The Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and the four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel finished 13th in a very close and competitive session. and 15. space.
The session started at sunset with an air temperature of 25 degrees and the track at 30 degrees, but as night fell these numbers ventured out as debutant Pietro Fittipaldi, the Brazilian replacement for Romain Grosjean in Haas. For 15 minutes he was the only man on the track.
When he pitted, Norris led the rest into action. The McLaren driver took the lead before Ricciardo, Leclerc and Bottas took over.
Verstappen turned around in turn two, but was just recovering when Russell, the top man on Friday, took over for a short time only for his teammate with the black arrows in order to regain the promotion with two fastest laps and reach a 0. 477 gap in front of the young Englishman.
It stayed that way until Vettel, who rediscovered a shape, jumped to second place before the last runs and both Mercedes men switched to shiny new softs.
However, it was only fleeting encouragement when Ferrari announced within minutes that he needed a preventative engine change for qualifying – an important task that must be completed in just two hours.
This flood of action was followed by Verstappen, who jumped 54 over them all. 064 to create a tempting scenario in which five different teams finish in the top five and only seven tenths of a second the Dutchman from 15. Separate place Vettel.
As expected, Fittipaldi only finished in 19th place ahead of his debut colleague Jack Aitken. Platz, the young Brit who stood up for Russell at Williams.
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Mercedes AMG Petronas F1-Team, Formula 1, George Russell, Lewis Hamilton, Bahrain International Circuit, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, Williams Racing
World news – AU – Verstappen at the top as Russell did Reality Check
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