The return to normality with Mercedes having an afternoon much closer than we used to, without major problems and with an interesting pace.
The teams had another four hours to test and try out new solutions. The wind continued to blow consistently and complicate the pilots’ lives. Track activity at the beginning of the hour has been reduced. This was the list of service pilots this afternoon:
- Mercedes: Valtteri Bottas
- Red Bull: Sergio Perez
- McLaren: Lando Norris
- Aston Martin: Lance Stroll
- Alpine: Fernando Alonso
- Ferrari: Charles Leclerc
- AlphaTauri: Pierre Gasly
- Alfa Romeo: Antonio Giovinazzi
- Haas: Mick Schumcher
- Williams: Nicholas Latifi
Little has changed in the late afternoon. The Top 7 remained unchanged from the morning session, with Antonio Giovinazzi moving up to eighth place, now 0.930s from Daniel Ricciardo who remained the fastest on the track. Mick Schumacher was now ninth at 1.183s, with Mercedes unable to do much better than in the morning. Lewis Hamilton was 1.184s ahead but Valtteri Bottas was still far away, having spent most of the time in the box.
It was not at all surprising to see few developments in the past. The teams continued to do long stints and race simulations. On the McLaren side we saw a different program from the norm and Lando Norris had only 13 laps in the first ninety minutes of the session with a series of installation laps.
Alpha Tauri seemed to have a good level in the long stints, with Pierre Gasly putting many laps on the table. It was Gasly who settled at the top of the timesheet at the start of the last hour of today’s session. The Alpha Tauri rider managed to dethrone Antonio Giovinazzi who had surpassed the Lando Norris mark. Valtteri Bottas and Sérgio Pérez completed the top 5.
Pérez saw his engine cover disintegrate, forcing the session to be interrupted, the second today, with his driving unit on display. Nicholas Latifi was also startled by his car entering Anti-Stall when braking for turn 1, which was equivalent to pulling the car’s handbrake.
The last hour gave us more evolution in terms of time, with the riders using the softest rubbers to make qualifying simulations. Bottas made the best time of the session, dethroning Gasly who spent a lot of time at the top of the table. Norris also made an interesting lap and took the fourth best record, behind Lance Stroll who won a place in the top 3 near the end of the session. Antonio Giovonazzi completed the top 5 of the day.