It almost seems to relive what we saw seven days ago. Max Verstappen’s RedBull largely dominates the third free practice session, as well as from a chronometric point of view also from the feeling of simplicity with which the Dutch driver finds the best performance, just off the track. But there is one in pursuit Mercedes battled with both drivers, with Bottas who could give Hamilton a big hand this weekend without penalty. We quickly compared Verstappen’s lap with the one canceled at Lewis Hamilton, being the Brit’s best lap, canceled by a few millimeters they didn’t have on the W12’s performance.
Honda returns to unload horses on the ground like last week, but Mercedes seems to be ascent of one motor step compared to what was seen in the Styrian Grand Prix to try to contain the world advance of Horner’s team. We will have confirmation of this only from qualifying, but you can see how in the climb between turn 1 and turn 3 the two performance curves are equivalent. Different what happens from curve 3 to curve 4, with Verstappen’s speed that increases more after 250 km / h, and being the downhill section, the impression is that this is a numerical confirmation of the lower resistance to progress of the RB16B . Thanks also to a perfect curve 4 Verstappen trims well 3 tenths in Hamilton in this section of track and almost another tenth in the final lap. The Dutchman is the number 1 candidate for pole position, with a car that looks virtually unchanged from last weekend. Mercedes, on the other hand, appears to be combative at least on the power front, perhaps ready to risk something more in order not to suffer another heavy defeat. Ferrari does not go back on the unloaded set-up The Ferrari experiment of partially unloading the car to try to improve the performance in qualifying is easily noticeable from the comparison between the lap of Carlos Sainz and that of Verstappen.
Sainz’s high speed on the second and third straights and the way the red line crosses the blue line above 250km / h indicate a lower resistance to running, which, however, is paid for in the third sector with all the surveys, especially those of curve 7 and curve 10, much slower for Sainz than the world leader. With the softer compounds, the performance on the single lap (which is so short) is actually easier to find, since the extra grip of the compound compensates for the lack of load. It will be necessary to see if over the distance the loss of pace will be less than what is assumed to gain in qualifying. What is certain is that behind the first two, there is a furious battle with Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin and perhaps Alonso’s Alpine that will play everything on the thousandth.