FP3 report: Sergio Perez finishes 2022’s practice sessions with a final P1

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez pulls in for a practice pit stop. Abu Dhabi November 2022

Sergio Perez topped the final practice session of 2022, beating his team-mate Max Verstappen to the fastest lap time in Abu Dhabi.

Perez clocked a 1:24.982 to finish a tenth of a second up on his team-mate, with Lewis Hamilton in third.

The Briton is under investigation for failing to slow under a red flag for Pierre Gasly’s broken cowl, the Mercedes driver also overtaking two cars.

As the sun beat down on the Yas Marina circuit, the final practice hour for the 2022 championship got under way.

With conditions bearing no resemblance to what the drivers will experience in qualifying, or in Sunday’s grand prix, they were slow to get into the action with only three drivers setting times in the first 10 minutes.

Carlos Sainz led the way ahead of Mick Schumacher, competing in his final grand prix with Haas, and Charles Leclerc – the latter having a “a moment” due to a “lot of bottoming”.

Good news for McLaren with confirmation the FIA had sandblasted the slippery patch of concrete in their pit box that had caused the drivers a few slippery moments in Friday’s practices.

Mercedes joined the action, Hamilton and George Russell immediately up into the 1-2 with the benchmark time down to a 1:26.040.

Lando Norris ran into a bit of early trouble, reporting “fire on the front left brake” before making his way back to the pits. Sebastian Vettel also reported “smoke” while Esteban Ocon was spinning at Turn 14.

Halfway through the session, Perez on the medium tyres led Hamilton on the softs with Leclerc P3, while Max Verstappen sat in the Red Bull garage. No problems, just no reason to run.

Shortly after the red flags were out, Pierre Gasly reported “something broke” near his front right. He left a piece of bodywork on the kerb, the session red-flagged to give marshals freedom to clear the debris.

As the session went green, the stewards announced Hamilton was under investigation for failing to slow under a red flag and passing other cars. The Mercedes driver was quickly into the action, Hamilton retaking P1 while Verstappen joined the action and went third.

Alex Albon had a close encounter with Norris as he shot past the McLaren driver, who was on the side of the track on a slow lap, but a little too close. He jumped up to fourth, beginning the traditional late-session qualy runs.

Russell went quickest, Hamilton took P1 off him, Perez was next to lead the way with a 1:24.982, Verstappen making an error at the exit of Turn 5 that cost him time. He went second fastest, 0.152s down.

Perez finished fastest of all ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton and Russell with Norris fifth. Sainz was sixth with Leclerc, reporting a strange noise, seventh.

Both Ferrari drivers suffered with porpoising throughout the session, Leclerc reporting “loads of oscillation on the engine off throttle”. He also complained his “fronts are gone after four corners”.

Daniel Ricciardo, Vettel and Albon completed the top 10.

Times

1 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing 1:24.982
2 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.152
3 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.240
4 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.413
5 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.536
6 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.648
7 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.649
8 Daniel RICCIARDO McLaren +0.968
9 Sebastian VETTEL Aston Martin +1.030
10 Alexander ALBON Williams +1.069
11 Esteban OCON Alpine +1.091
12 Fernando ALONSO Alpine +1.094
13 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +1.207
14 Pierre GASLY AlphaTauri +1.257
15 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +1.374
16 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +1.415
17 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +1.480
18 Mick SCHUMACHER Haas F1 Team +1.491
19 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +1.500
20 Nicholas LATIFI Williams +1.664