Verstappen seventh after final Shanghai free practice

Published on 13 April 2019 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen ended the third and final free practice for the Chinese Grand Prix in P7. The Dutchman only did five laps, with a fastest time of 1:34.447. It seemed that Max was heading out in the final phase of the session, but a code red, caused by a crash of Toro Rosso driver Alexander Albon, prevented that from happening. Valtteri Bottas was the fastest with 1:32.830. Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc completed the top three about four tenths behind.

It is 11am local time when the lights at the end of the pitlane go green. Kevin Magnussen is the first driver to enter the track for an installation lap. Williams driver Robert Kubica sets the first lap time of the session.

In the first fifteen minutes we only see the Williams drivers on the 5.451-meter track of the Shanghai International Circuit. After that it gets a bit busier on track and slowly more lap times appear on the time list.

After about half an hour, when most drivers have set a time, we see Sebastian Vettel at the top. The German sets a time of 1:33.222 on the soft tyres, staying in front of Lewis Hamilton (+0.734), Valtteri Bottas (+0.752) and Charles Leclerc (+0.882). However, both Mercedes set their time on the harder medium tyres. At that time we also see Max Verstappen getting in his RB15.

When the Dutchman comes out on track, he is the only driver who did not set a time yet. In his first run Verstappen sets a 1:34.447, good enough for P5. After a practice start, Max returns to the team in the pitlane. At the time he did five laps.

With only fifteen minutes to go, the top six consist of Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon. Both Ferraris and Mercedes enter the track for a new run. Vettel seems to improve his fastest time, but goes wide in the last turn, after which he pulls out. Bottas (1:32.830), Leclerc (1:33.248) and Hamilton (1:33.689) all improve and end in P1, P3 and P4 respectively.

During the final minutes, the trouble-free session comes to an abrupt end, when Alexander Albon loses control over his Toro Rosso after exiting the last corner, hitting the barrier hard. This causes a red flag, ending the third free practice. The Thai exits the car without injuries, but the team is facing a major challenge to fix the STR14 for qualifying, which starts at 8am Dutch time.

Because of the crash, Verstappen cannot come out on track to improve his time and ends the third and final free practice in seventh position. Valtteri Bottos is with a time of 1:32.830 the fastest.

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Results third free practice Azerbaijan:

1Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1:32.830 11
2Sebastian VettelVETFerrari1:33.222+0.392s12
3Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:33.248+0.418s10
4Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:33.689+0.859s10
5Nico HulkenbergHULRenault1:33.974+1.144s11
6Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:34.246+1.416s14
7Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda1:34.447+1.617s5
8Carlos SainzSAIMcLaren Renault1:34.510+1.680s9
9Alexander AlbonALBScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:34.600+1.770s11
10Daniil KvyatKVYScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:34.783+1.953s10
11Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Renault1:34.938+2.108s11
12Sergio PerezPERRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:35.078+2.248s9
13Daniel RicciardoRICRenault1:35.142+2.312s11
14Lance StrollSTRRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:35.223+2.393s10
15Pierre GaslyGASRed Bull Racing Honda1:35.326+2.496s8
16Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:35.726+2.896s12
17Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari1:35.771+2.941s14
18Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:35.998+3.168s15
19George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes1:36.124+3.294s10
20Robert KubicaKUBWilliams Mercedes1:36.176+3.346s11