Max Verstappen had a great general for qualifying later today. In the third free practice session for the United States GP, he was constantly at the front.
Quiet start of third training
It took a long time to see action on the track during the third free practice session at the Circuit of the Americas. After fifteen minutes we saw some serious action on the track for the first time, but the majority of the drivers were still quietly next to their cars in the pit box.
Lewis Hamilton opened the ball on the soft tire with a 1.35.8. His time was improved by just under two tenths by Sergio Perez, while Max Verstappen was still in the pit box. With 40 minutes to go we saw the Dutchman on the track for the first time. At that moment by Valtteri Bottas just under the time of Perez.
Hamilton picked up the pace a bit on a new set of the soft tyre. Verstappen had a great first run, diving almost four tenths below the fastest time of that moment, driven by Hamilton.
Verstappen lightning fast
Bottas, who had to give in his fastest time due to exceeding the track limits, spun again on the soft tyre. As a result, he was in last place halfway through the session.
At the front, Verstappen was joined by Perez, but in a new flying lap, the Dutchman improved his own time considerably, to a 1.34.9. He was three tenths from his teammate and six tenths from Hamilton. Both Ferraris and McLarens had a good start to the session and settled in the second tier.
In a third attempt, Bottas finally managed to set some time on a new set of the soft tire. He approached Verstappen’s time to a tenth. However, it was Carlos Sainz who showed that it could go a bit faster by setting the fastest time with his Ferrari.
Verstappen and Hamilton have to give up fast time
We had to wait for the qualifying runs of Verstappen and Hamilton in the final phase of the third training. Perez restored the pecking order by diving below Sainz’s time, but it was Verstappen who in turn went three tenths below Perez’s time. In turn 19, the Dutchman went off track with four wheels, taking his fastest lap time away from him.
Hamilton also lapped and was two tenths faster than Perez, but exceeded the track limits in Turn 9 and he too had to give up his lap time. A new fast lap was not possible for Verstappen due to traffic. Hamilton also decided to leave it at that.
This meant that Perez was the fastest man ahead of Sainz and Verstappen. The Mercedes were in fifth (Bottas) and eighth (Hamilton) positions.