Leclerc fastest from Russell in Dutch GP FP3

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Leclerc fastest from Russell in Dutch GP FP3

Formula 1

Leclerc fastest from Russell in Dutch GP FP3

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Charles Leclerc edged George Russell to top spot in final practice at the Dutch Grand Prix, while Max Verstappen recovered from Friday woes to take third.

Leclerc consolidated Ferrari’s lead from Friday evening to set a time of 1m11.632s to pip Russell by just 0.066s. The Mercedes driver was quicker than the Ferrari driver in the final sector, which is mostly flat out after Turns 11 and 12, but lost the bulk of the difference through the high-speed bends of the second split.

Verstappen’s return to competitiveness was the session’s biggest talking point, however. Red Bull Racing struggled with setup on Friday thanks to track time lost through mechanical issues, but the team bounced back on Saturday morning to put Verstappen into the pole fight ahead of qualifying.

The Dutchman was only 0.161s off the pace, but his best time coming on his second flying lap on a set of soft tires. With the track temperature hovering at around 95 degrees F, the highest it’s been this weekend, the soft compound appeared to be good enough for only one qualifying lap.

His first lap was less than half a tenth slower but had been compromised by a big snap of oversteer through Turn 3, Hugenholtz, without which he may have been even closer to the front.

Carlos Sainz followed in fourth, 0.339s slower than his leading teammate. Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez were closely matched at half a second adrift in fifth and sixth respectively.

Fernando Alonso led the midfield for Alpine with a 0.7s deficit, beating Sebastian Vettel by 0.15s, the German’s Aston Martin team doubling down on its impressive Friday pace.

Mick Schumacher was a solid ninth ahead of Lando Norris in 10th, the Briton’s McLaren slipping back into the midfield after a more optimistic first two practice sessions.

Kevin Magnussen was 11th ahead of Lance Stroll and Williams driver Alex Albon. Esteban Ocon was classified 14th in the second Alpine ahead of AlphaTauri teammates Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda.

Daniel Ricciardo was one of the few drivers to find his way through the gravel during the hour, spitting up stones with his McLaren when he missed Turn 12. The Australian was 17th at the end of the session, 1.6s off the pace and 0.7s slower than his teammate.

Alfa Romeo drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu were 18th and 19th ahead of Nicholas Latifi, who was slowest of all in 20th.

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