FP3 report: Sergio Perez leads a Red Bull 1-2, Charles Leclerc spins

Michelle Foster
Sergio Perez sitting in his car on the grid. Austria July 2022

Red Bull continued to turn the screws on their rivals, Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen leading a comfortable 1-2 in final practice for the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Mexican driver clocked a 1:45.047 to beat his team-mate by 0.137s while Carlos Sainz, P7, a further six-tenths down.

The other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc showed good pace and was sitting up in the top four when he spun into the gravel at Turn 12, tagging the barrier with the front right of his F1-75.

The car escaped without damage and the driver joined his rivals for the final four minutes of action.

 

 

It was a chilly start to the session with Lewis Hamilton the first driver to make his mark, a 1:51.7, but within minutes he was down in ninth place, Zhou Guanyu quickest with a 1:47.7. He headed an Alfa Romeo 1-2 at the 10-minute mark with Alex Albon up in third place.

George Russell found himself woefully off the pace, 1.3s down in the first sector alone despite running the soft tyres. He reported D-rates at the exit of the final corner before declaring after three laps that his tyres were “gone”.

With championship leader Max Verstappen facing a back-of-the-grid engine penalty, he opted to focus on race simulation, lining up 2.6s down on the Alfa Romeo team-mates.

Aston Martin joined the tussle at the top, Lance Stroll P3 to Sebastian Vettel’s P4, and all the while there was no sign of the Ferrari team-mates as they sat quietly in the garage.

Another driver to go quiet was Mick Schumacher, the German heading back to the Haas garage after the team discovered a sensor issue. His team-mate Kevin Magnussen moved ahead of the Aston Martin drivers to go third.

Ferrari joined the action halfway through the session, Carlos Sainz immediately up to P1 with a 1:46.4 which was 0.4s faster than Charles Leclerc’s best. The Monégasque driver is another taking penalties as too is Esteban Ocon who spent part of his session practicing giving Fernando Alonso a tow.

Sergio Perez put an end to the Ferrari 1-2 with a 1:45.9 while Albon in the Williams shot up to third place and Hamilton P5. As drivers swapped to fresh soft tyres, Leclerc rebounded to third ahead of Albon, Bottas, Stroll and Nicholas Latifi. Hamilton down to eighth.

Taking fuel out of his Red Bull, Verstappen put on a new set of soft tyres and looked set to go fastest of all only to be told to slow down as there were yellow flags. On his next hot lap he laid down a 1:45.4 to go top.

Sainz jumped to second, cutting Verstappen’s lead to just three-tenths but that was still a healthy margin for the Red Bull driver, Lando Norris up to third.

The session was red flagged with eight minutes on the clock when Leclerc spun into the gravel at Turn 12 and hit the barrier. He was able to continue, slowing touring back to the Ferrari garage.

Practice resumed with four minutes on the clock, Leclerc rejoined the action along with 18 other drivers, the only one missing being Schumacher.

Perez put in a late lap, a 1:45.047, to beat Verstappen by a tenth with Sainz in third place a further six tenths down. Norris was P4 ahead of Fernando Alonso.

Times

1 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:45.047 19 laps
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull + 0.137 19 laps
3 Carlos Sainz Ferrari + 0.777 13 laps
4 Lando Norris McLaren + 0.918 20 laps
5 Fernando Alonso Alpine + 1.014 16 laps
6 George Russell Mercedes + 1.024 19 laps
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari + 1.073 12 laps
8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin + 1.119 18 laps
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine + 1.554 24 laps
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri + 1.557 19 laps
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren + 1.599 18 laps
12 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 1.722 20 laps
13 Nicholas Latifi Williams + 1.764 20 laps
14 Alex Albon Williams + 1.789 20 laps
15 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing + 1.834 20 laps
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin + 1.928 16 laps
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas + 1.935 14 laps
18 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri + 1.988 23 laps
19 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing + 2.042 20 laps
20 Mick Schumacher Haas + 7.447 6 laps