Formula 1

The Red Bull of Verstappen: Red Bull dominate final practice session at French Grand Prix

Max Verstappen sizzled in the sun on Saturday, topping the times for Red Bull ahead of both Ferrari drivers in the third and final practice session for the French Grand Prix. Taking advantage of his superior straight-line speed, the 24-year-old Dutchman set a best lap time of one minute and 32.272 seconds, outpacing Carlos Sainz in the lead Ferrari by three-tenths of a second. “If Red Bull can engineer and maintain the speed that they had yesterday in the long runs while also continuing the short-run improvement,” Sky Sports F1’s Paul Di Resta said. This weekend, Kayo will be broadcasting live coverage of the F1 French GP. On Sunday, pre-race coverage begins at 9:30 p.m. AEST, followed by live racing at 11 p.m. Are you new to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Right Now > Ricciardo will stay at McLaren until 2023 | 00:39 Sainz, who won his first Formula One race at the British Grand Prix in July, will start from the back of the grid alongside Jan Magnussen of Haas after the two Ferrari-powered cars received new engine parts. Charles Leclerc, who won the Austrian Grand Prix to cut Verstappen’s lead in the title race to 38 points, was third fastest, six tenths slower. Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time champion, finished fourth for Mercedes, ahead of Sergio Perez in the second Red Bull and George Russell in the second Mercedes. Verstappen was more than a second faster than his Red Bull teammate on another hot day in the south of France, demonstrating his dominance. Fernando Alonso, the two-time champion, finished seventh for Alpine, ahead of Alex Albon of Williams, Lando Norris of McLaren, and Yuki Tsunoda of Alpha Tauri. Both German drivers, Mick Schumacher and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, had difficult sessions and finished 19th and 20th for the Haas and Aston Martin teams after only 12 and 11 laps, respectively. In blistering heat, only seven cars took to the track, with Perez setting the first lap time in 1:33.628 after seven minutes – a time quickly surpassed by Verstappen in 1:32.837 – but little else for the sell-out holiday crowd to enjoy. MORE F1 NEWS Ricciardo claims that the ‘DNA’ of the tricky 2021 car is still to blame for 2022 inconsistency. Despite headline speed, Ferrari faces danger as Mercedes upgrades underwhelm. Mercedes suffers a setback in Austria | 01:14 The fans cheered for Pierre Gasly as he passed the grandstand named after him before the Mercedes set times that were more than 1.5 seconds slower than the champion. “1.7?” Hamilton inquired. “Jeeze…” Ferrari was also struggling to match Red Bull’s pace, and Leclerc spun through a full 360 degrees on his hard tyres before Hamilton and Alfa Romeo’s Yuki Tsunoda each survived brief’moments’ in pursuit. As his rivals tested’softs’ and ‘hards’ before galvanizing themselves for a late flurry of qualifying simulation runs, Vertappen’s pace on medium tyres remained the standard to catch. With 12 minutes remaining, Leclerc and Sainz had moved up to second and third, but were still 0.1 seconds behind Hamilton, who was fourth, four-tenths behind. Red Bull was still using soft tyres at the time. The tenacious Sainz persisted and took the lead after 51 minutes, replacing Verstappen in 1:32.626, a 0.182 advantage to delight the ‘prancing horse’ fans sweltering in the open grandstands. Verstappen rejoined the race on softs and beat the Spaniard by 0.354 seconds, while Leclerc admitted his tyres were ‘dead,’ a common Ferrari problem at the high-degradation Paul Ricard circuit. The track temperature had reached 57 degrees by this point, hot enough to pose a serious challenge to cars, drivers, and teams and certain to make strategy a major factor in Sunday’s race. Follow everything in our live blog below! Can’t access the blog? Please click here!