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Hamilton quickest in final practice

NEWS STORY
26/06/2021

Ahead of today's sole practice session, the air temperature is 21 degrees C, while the track temperature is 45.2 degrees. It is bright and sunny, nonetheless, there is a 40% chance of rain.

Max Verstappen set the pace in yesterday's sessions, with Lewis Hamilton admitting that the Red Bull looks strong.

Second in the opening session, Pierre Gasly was sidelined in FP2 by an engine issue. The Frenchman has taken on a new MGU-K while hs old one has been sent back to Japan for analysis.

Alpine looked strong in both sessions, and while McLaren has yet to show its hand, Aston Martin also looked competitive, unlike Ferrari which could be in for another tough weekend.

While Hamilton did post the fastest lap of the day, having exceeded the track limits - one of many to do so - his time was subsequently deleted. However, what was noticeable is that while the Red Bull was quick from the get-go it took the Mercedes a couple of laps to get up to speed.

Other than track limits - and the threat of rain - traffic was also an issue, and is sure to play a part this afternoon, particularly in Q1.

For his silliness in the pitlane, Bottas has been hit with a three place grid penalty.

The lights go green and the Haas pair lead the way, followed by Gasly. While the Haas pair are on hards, Gasly is on softs having had no experience of them yesterday.

Schumacher posts an exploratory 11.787 and Mazepin a 14.420.

"The car is pulling to the right," warns Gasly before pitting.

Following several minutes of inactivity the Alpine pair head out, both are on mediums.

After 11 minutes of running there remain only two times on the board, those of the Haas pair.

Ocon posts a 7.353 but Alonso responds with a 7.031.

At which point Raikkonen heads out. The Finn subsequently posts a 6.778 on softs, however this is deleted for exceeding the limits at Turn 9.

Ocon posts 6.839 and Alonso 6.980 as Latifi and Giovinazzi head out. Alonso's time is subsequently deleted.

No sooner has Giovinazzi gone top with a 6.689 than Alonso posts a legal 6.686.

Alonso complains of understeer and a lot of bottoming.

Quickest in the first and final sectors, Russell goes quickest with a 6.454.

Suddenly there are 15... 16 drivers on track, Verstappen and Hamilton the only no shows.

Gasly goes second (6.510) on softs, ahead of Leclerc, Alonso, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen and Sainz.

Bottas goes quickest in S1, as teammate Hamilton heads out. The Finn maintains the pace in S2, finally crossing the line at 6.212.

Replay (softs) shows Gasly being released into the path of Bottas in the pitlane earlier.

A 6.387 sees Tsunoda (mediums) go second. However, his time is deleted.

As Hamilton goes fifth with a 6.464, Sainz goes second (6.266) ahead of his Ferrari teammate.

Twenty-five minutes in and Verstappen finally heads out, on softs. Teammate Perez, currently twelfth, in on mediums.

Quickest in S2, Verstappen maintains the pace in the final sector, stopping the clock at 5.571. Meanwhile, Bottas has improved to second with a 6.063.

A 5.900 sees Hamilton go second, only to be demoted when Tsunoda bangs in a 5.819 on the mediums.

A spin for Mazepin in Turn 3.

Told Verstappen is "three-tenths" quicker, Hamilton responds: "Where do they get three-tenths from?" Cue technical directive.

Perez improves to fourth with a 5.794 as Verstappen raises the bar with a 4.971, thereby putting 0.929s between himself and Hamilton.

Hamilton improves to second with a 5.367, but remains 0.396s off Verstappen's pace.

Gasly goes third with a 5.690.

With 25:00 remaining, it's: Verstappen, Hamilton, Gasly, Bottas, Perez, Tsunoda, Leclerc, Giovinazzi, Sainz and Vettel.

Ahead of the qualifying sims the circuit falls silent, Alonso and Raikkonen the last to pit.

Schumacher gets the qualifying sims underway, while Bottas and the Ferrari pair are the first of the big guns to emerge.

Sainz posts 5.698 to go fifth but is demoted when Leclerc posts a 5.340 and Bottas a 4.832.

Hamilton responds with a 4.369, as Norris claims fourth with a 5.228. However, the McLaren driver's time is subsequently deleted.

Schumacher has three successive times deleted for erring at Turns 9 and 10.

A 5.492 sees Vettel go fifth.

All bar Verstappen and Ocon are on track.

Sainz complains of "massive understeer" in Turn 7.

Stroll goes fifth (5.445), as Raikkonen complains of something hanging off his rear wing.

Gasly goes fourth (5.333) and Ricciardo 14th (6.116).

As the clock counts down to 08:30, Verstappen finally heads out, the Dutchman and his team oozing confidence.

It's a slow-ish S1 for Verstappen, however he posts a PB in S2. At the line he posts a 4.573 to go second by 0.204s.

Elsewhere, Vettel takes a bumpy ride over the kerbs at Turn 1, as replay shows that Verstappen was compromised by traffic in S1 of his flying lap.

"He's in my way every f****** time," says Verstappen of a certain title rival who drives a Mercedes. "It's all fun mate, don't worry," he is advised.

Having taken a brief detour through the pits, Verstappen heads out for another flying lap. Again, he's off the pace in S1 but posts a PB in S2. At the line it's 4.570 having improved by 0.003s. However, his time is deleted.

The session ends. Hamilton is quickest, ahead of Verstappen, Bottas, Perez, Tsunoda, Gasly, Leclerc, Alonso, Stroll and Vettel.

Giovinazzi is eleventh, ahead of Ocon, Sainz, Russell, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Ricciardo, Latifi, Norris and Mazepin.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Spielberg, here.

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