Emilia Romagna GP: Game on as McLaren and Ferrari challenge Red Bull for top spot in FP3

Michelle Foster
Oscar Piastri in the McLaren MCL38 cockpit.

Oscar Piastri is optimistic about McLaren's chances

Under sustained pressure for the first time this season, Red Bull’s troubles continued in final practice at Imola with McLaren 1-2 ahead of the Ferrari team-mates.

Max Verstappen was P6 while his team-mate Sergio Perez crashed and brought out the red flags.

Ferrari record practice hat-trick at Imola

In near-perfect conditions at the Imola circuit, Charles Leclerc gave Ferrari’s Tifosi even more to smile about as the five-time Grand Prix winner, in his upgraded SF-24, went quickest at the start of FP3 with a 1:16.2.

Challenged by the flying Max Verstappen, who shrugged off his Friday woes, the Ferrari went quicker still with a 1:16.0 to sit three-tenths ahead of the Red Bull driver.

Sainz replaced his team-mate up in P1 with a 1:16.067 as Verstappen, having made a brief stop in the pits as he shrugged off his Friday troubles, left the pits in his RB20. But his second run was curtailed as Fernando Alonso rear-ended the barrier at the final corner.

Off line at Rivazza, the Aston Martin driver lost the rear end of his upgraded AMR24, spun off the track and went into the barrier.

After a brief red flag stoppage, the drivers were back on track with Ferrari running 1-2 with Sainz ahead of Leclerc while Oscar Piastri jumped up to third place.

2024 team-mate wars ahead of Imola qualifying

👉F1 2024: Head-to-head qualifying record between team-mates

👉F1 2024: Head-to-head race statistics between team-mates

Meanwhile Verstappen, although by no means complaining as he did on Friday, was P4 and some two-tenths down on the P1 time.

Bottoming down the straight into Turn 1, George Russell asked Mercedes to check his car as his W15 was notably bouncing. His team-mate Lewis Hamilton also wasn’t happy, complaining about his W15’s ride height, with that being put down to a tail wind.

Piastri, on a fresh set of soft Pirelli tyres, overhauled the Ferrari team-mates with a 1:15.529, the McLaren driver half a second clear of Sainz.

The session was red flagged with five minutes on the clock as Sergio Perez binned his RB20 at the chicane after Acque Minerali. Mounting the kerb, the Mexican driver lost control of his Red Bull and went nose first into the barrier.

Back on with just over two minutes on the clock, it was a mad dash for everyone to put in one last flying lap…

Traffic played a role with Piastri finishing FP3 at the top of the timesheets ahead of Lando Norris and Sainz. Verstappen did not get to complete a final lap.

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix 2024: FP3 times

1 Oscar PIASTRI 1:15.529
2 Lando NORRIS +0.300
3 Carlos SAINZ +0.538
4 Charles LECLERC +0.558
5 George RUSSELL +0.566
6 Max VERSTAPPEN +0.837
7 Alexander ALBON +0.941
8 Esteban OCON +0.952
9 Lance STROLL +1.014
10 Nico HULKENBERG +1.018
11 Daniel RICCIARDO +1.031
12 Sergio PEREZ +1.102
13 Yuki TSUNODA +1.139
14 Valtteri BOTTAS +1.166
15 Logan SARGEANT +1.265
16 Kevin MAGNUSSEN +1.394
17 Lewis HAMILTON +1.431
18 Fernando ALONSO +1.810
19 Pierre GASLY +1.832
20 Guanyu ZHOU +2.362

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