Azerbaijan GP: Pierre Gasly shock fastest in Practice Three, Max Verstappen crashes, Mercedes fight for pace

Pierre Gasly set a surprise fastest time for AlphaTauri in a hugely-eventful final practice session in Baku which saw championship leader Max Verstappen crash out and Mercedes continue to chase a pace breakthrough.

Lewis Hamilton finished third but benefitted from a massive slipstreaming tow down F1’s longest straight behind Sergio Perez’s Red Bull on the final lap that put him there.

Team-mate Valtteri Bottas did not and was 13th in the sister Mercedes, who have struggled for single-lap speed throughout practice and appear by no means guaranteed to qualify among the front rows.

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So many unknowns heading into Quali! Massively interrupted final practice session.

Yellow flags will be a big issue in Quali so the drivers will have to get a banker in early.

Slipstream effect in the final sector is huge so watch for the games being played for track position!

Red Bull’s Verstappen should certainly be in the hunt for pole from 1pm in qualifying but was ruled out of the final laps in practice after hitting the barriers at Turn 15. Breaking his front wing and damaging the car’s suspension, the Dutchman was unable to reverse out of the barrier and was forced to miss the rest of the session.

Perez, Friday’s pacesetter in the other Red Bull, finished three tenths behind Gasly’s unexpected flying effort of 1:42.251.

Ferrari remained in the mix at the front, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz fourth and fifth respectively, while Lando Norris was sixth for McLaren, who had both their cars in the top 10.

Alpine also appeared competitive, Fernando Alonso their lead runner in seventh place on what could be the most competitive weekend since his F1 return, while Yuki Tsunoda was also running well in the second AlphaTauri in the top eight.

More to follow…

Azerbaijan GP Practice Three Timesheet

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