As the morning’s heavy downpour slowly subsided, a fast-paced concluding 10 minutes was observed at the Grand Prix. Max Verstappen took advantage of the improving track conditions and set out several rapid runs, thereby gaining significant confidence on a drying track.
Approximately 20 minutes to the end of the session, Lando Norris had taken charge after a back-and-forth at the top with McLaren colleague, Oscar Piastri. Nevertheless, Verstappen forged ahead with a 1m22.758s to claim the first overall spot. George Russell endeavored to keep up with the pace but missed the mark by a mere 0.02s, following which Verstappen cemented his lead by registering a 1m21.631s on his subsequent timed lap.
Verstappen’s third attempt was futile, as he slid into the gravel at Turn 11; his performance in the second sector had not improved either. Consequently, Kevin Magnussen, Zhou Guanyu, and newcomer Liam Lawson had to halt their sessions owing to dangerous track conditions post-morning rain.
Magnussen was the early casualty, raising the first red flag after meeting a slide at Turn 3 while on out-lap and, ultimately, crashed into the exit wall due to the car’s back-end sliding out.
Following the brief suspension to clear Magnussen’s Haas, Charles Leclerc momentarily climbed to the top by posting a 1m27.238s, momentarily displacing Verstappen. However, he barely avoided crashing into the wall at Turn 1 right after he crossed the line. Despite the scare, Leclerc managed to keep his car tire’s off the barrier.
As rain kept pouring, intermediate tyres started to adapt to the conditions. Norris triumphed over Leclerc’s time by a split second before Verstappen smashed the Brit’s lap by 1.5s.
Zhou’s Alfa Romeo didn’t survive his spin out at Turn 13, and consequently, marshals were forced to wave the red flag again.
As the session restarted, Norris regained the top spot with two personal best sectors by using Logan Sargeant‘s slipstream through the concluding bend. Piastri then attempted to overturn Norris’ efforts with a 1m24.893s lap, but Norris reasserted his dominance with a 1m23.677s, besting his teammate by over a second.
However, Piastra countered with a lap just 0.097s behind his more experienced teammate, gaining 0.6s over Sergio Perez concluding in second place.
Following the final interruption, Verstappen stormed to the top spot and dismissed the McLaren duo who failed to capitalize on the drying track moments. Russell ultimately closed the session in second place, 0.379s behind Verstappen’s best. Perez finished in third, one full second behind his teammate’s time.