Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fastest in FP3 of F1 Saudi Arabian GP with teammate Sergio Perez in P3 behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
It was tricky FP3 session in F1 Saudi Arabian GP with traffic still playing a role especially on quick laps. The tyre game was on too as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton set his best lap times on the hard compound as opposed to Red Bull using the soft tyres.
It was Max Verstappen on top with a 1m28.100s on his soft tyre set as Hamilton was second on his hard compound with a 1m28.314s lap. The latter felt better on the harder compound, but for qualifying they will have to use the soft tyre in Q3 at least.
The Honda side were happy with Sergio Perez (1m28.629s) was third from AlphaTauri pair of Yuki Tsunoda (1m28.641s) and Pierre Gasly (1m28.715s) where they leapfrogged Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas (1m29.019s) in the order.
The Finn set his best lap on the soft compound with Gasly on the medium tyres. It was not a clean run from either Hamilton and Verstappen where both had minor offs. In fact, the Brit not only held off Gasly but also caught out Haas’ Nikita Mazepin after he wasn’t told of a fast car approaching on radio.
The latter took place at a high-speed blind corner where Mazepin almost clouted the back of Hamilton. Behind Bottas, it was Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc (1m29.101s) and Carlos Sainz (1m29.149s) in seventh and eighth.
The Top 10 was rounded out Alpine’s Esteban Ocon (1m29.177s) and McLaren’s Lando Norris (1m29.300s) who pushed Alpine’s Fernando Alonso to 11th. It was a good run from the Alfa Romeo pair of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen to be 12th and 13th.
McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was 14th from Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, who at one point was asked to switch off his engine in the pits due to slow puncture. A late lap helped him to finish ahead of Williams’ George Russell and the other Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel.
The German had a wild kerb moment too but managed to save the car as he led Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and Haas duo of Mick Schumacher and Mazepin – the duo separated by just the 0.046s margin.
Here's how the third and final practice session played out…
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 4, 2021
UPDATE: Following the FP3, the stewards summoned Hamilton for not respecting double waved yellow flag. He is due to report at 19:00 local time. This is not for his impeding of Gasly and Mazepin, but for a separate yellow flag miss.
UPDATE 2: A second summon was made for Hamilton by the stewards. This time it was impeding Mazepin. It will be dealt with at the same time.
UPDATE 3: For the first offence of double waved yellow flag, the stewards cleared him of any offence as the Light Panel Number 6 was accidentally lighted and was taken down within a second of ignition.
“The Race Director reported to the Stewards that the double yellow flag warning on the FIA Marshalling System was activated at Light Panel Number 6 accidentally, for less than 1 second,” the steward report stated. “As the on-board video of Car 44 (to be released by the Commercial Rights Holder following this Decision) clearly shows, there was no yellow flag displayed, no yellow lights were displayed to that driver and the yellow warning light was not visible on the driver’s steering wheel.
“Unlike other incidents this year, there was no yellow flag or yellow light displayed to the driver (the driver already being well into the marshalling sector when the system was briefly activated) hence no breach of the regulations has occurred.”
UPDATE 4: The impeding decision saw Hamilton being reprimanded for catching out Mazepin, even though the stewards agreed that the team did not communicate him properly. The Brit is on his second reprimand where a third one will result in a 10-place penalty.
Mercedes, meanwhile, were handed a massive 25,000 euros fine. “The driver was given a 10 second warning that Car 9 was approaching when he was at Turn 2,” stated the report. “Due to a failure in communication by the Team he was not given another warning until Car 9 was alongside him. The Stewards accept that this circuit presents challenges for drivers in relation to using their mirrors as the method of determining the approach of overtaking cars.
“Although it is the driver’s ultimate responsibility to avoid impeding, for this circuit the driver must depend upon the Team to communicate efficiently. This did not happen in this case and accordingly the penalty for the Competitor is imposed. The Stewards take this opportunity to emphasise that due to the nature of this circuit it is essential that teams communicate effectively and proactively with their drivers. This is not to be taken as a precedent for other circuits.”
Here’s what was said after Friday in F1 Saudi Arabian GP