Verstappen’s costly blunder creates late F1 drama in Baku

Max Verstappen’s weekend in Azerbaijan has taken an unfortunate turn, with the Red Bull driver crashing into the wall during Practice 3 on Saturday evening AEST.

Three hours ahead of the Qualifying session, the Dutch driver locked up and slid into the wall at Turn 15 — the same spot Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc crashed during Practice 2 on Friday.

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The suspension on Verstappen’s car was broken after the incident, with the front two tyres pointing in different directions.

Max Verstappen hits the barriers at Turn 15!

The session is now red flagged, as he waits to be recovered#AzerbaijanGP 🇦🇿

Red flags were subsequently called in Azerbaijan as Verstappen trudged off the track, looking visibly disappointed with himself.

The Red Bull mechanics now have their work cut out for them in order to fix the Dutchman’s car ahead of Qualifying.

Verstappen locked up and sent his car into the wall at Turn 15.Source:AFP

RELATED: Ricciardo back to his best in Baku

The team were hoping for a front-row lockout after strong showings from both Verstappen and Sergio Perez in the first two practice sessions, but for now it seems like Perez may have to solely shoulder the burden for Qualifying.

The Baku race is a major opportunity for Verstappen to extend his lead over Lewis Hamilton in the Driver’s Championship, but his lead could evaporate should the car not be ready to go for Qualifying.

At one point during the practice session, Hamilton was languishing as low as 17th fastest, but recovered to finish with the third fastest time.

The same can’t be said for his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who finished 13th fastest.

The Finn has struggled to find form this year, and with his contract ending at the end of the season, he will need to show more to prove he is worthy of retaining his seat.

Late in the session, a virtual safety car was called after Williams driver George Russell was left stranded on the track after his car died.

Elsewhere around the grid, Daniel Ricciardo failed to build on a promising first practice session as he finished 10th-fastest in the third practice session as McLaren teammate Lando Norris found himself sixth-fastest.

It was a great session for Alpha Tauri, as Pierre Gasly finished fastest with a time of 1:42:251. Teammate Yuki Tsunoda finished eighth fastest, clocking in at 1:43:244.

Gasly hasn’t exactly had the happiest of returns in Baku. He finished 12th in 2018 with Toro Rosso, and retired from the 2019 race as a Red Bull driver.

"No power, no gears. It's just died"

George Russell comes to a stop with oil leaking out of the back of his car#AzerbaijanGP 🇦🇿

Azerbaijan GP Practice Three

1. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) — 1:42.251

2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) — 1:42.595

3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) — 1:44.556

4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) — 1:42.778

5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) — 1:43.006

6. Lando Norris (McLaren) — 1:43.011

7. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) 1:43.080

8. Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri) — 1:43.244

9. Esteban Ocon (Alpine) — 1:43.294

10. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) — 1:43.557

11. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) — 1:43:585

12. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) — 1:43:682

13. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) — 1:43:745

14. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) — 1:43:826

15. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) — 1:43:984

16. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) — 1:44:054

17. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) — 1:44:113

18. George Russell (Williams) — 1:44:434

19. Mick Schumacher (Haas) — 1:45:282

20. Nikita Mazepin (Haas) — 1:45:711

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