Verstappen tops messy final practice at Zandvoort

Max Verstappen led George Russell in final practice for the Dutch Grand Prix as multiple red flags interrupted the wet session.

Heavy rain throughout the morning ensured a soaked track for FP3 and there were further showers as the session took place, but Verstappen escaped a worrying moment early on to set the pace at his home grand prix, with Russell 0.379s adrift in second place.

The pair were in a class of their own in terms of lap times as conditions improved at the end of the session, with Sergio Perez in third a full second off his teammate. Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Alex Albon rounded out the top six but never looked like threatening Verstappen’s time, although the McLaren pair of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris – seventh and tenth respectively – had spells at the top for much of the hour.


The conditions were bad news for Liam Lawson as he took part in his only practice session ahead of qualifying after replacing the injured Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri, with the New Zealander completing 26 laps but having one spin as he ended up 18th fastest.

Kevin Magnussen brought out the first red flag when he went off at Turn 3 early on, spinning on the exit in such tricky conditions. The incident appeared to damage the left rear of the Haas, moments after Verstappen had been off at the same point but just kept his car out of the wall.

When the session resumed, short but heavy showers kept adding to the difficulty for the drivers, and one such downpour triggered a spin at the penultimate corner for Zhou Guanyu who ended up beached in the gravel.

There was a third red flag to follow as well, when Lawson swapped ends at the same point but slid along the track to the banking of the final corner and was able to spin the car back round and rejoin, with that interruption seeming a little premature from race control as four further minutes of running were lost.

Lawson had been set to improve his best time on intermediate tires before the off, and ended up 4.7s off the pace as a result. It was the only real blot on Lawson’s copybook despite the weather, as he looked to gain as much experience as possible on both the full wet and intermediate tire, although it will mean his first dry laps for AlphaTauri could come in qualifying.

Aside from those incidents, Turn 1 was proving particularly challenging, with both Ferrari drivers and Fernando Alonso having excursions at the first corner – with multiple offs in Charles Leclerc’s case.

Esteban Ocon followed in more dramatic fashion, locking up and sliding head-on into the barrier but seeming to hit the Tecpro square enough to be able to continue without significant damage.

Story originally appeared on Racer