It was business as usual for Formula 1 in Friday night’s final practice for the Las Vegas GP as George Russell went quickest in a session that was lacking in drama barring a late crash for Alex Albon.
The Mercedes driver hit the front with a 1:34.093, overhauling Oscar Piastri by four-tenths.
But with a late red flag when Albon hit the wall and lost a tyre, neither Ferrari nor Red Bull completed their final hot lap.
George Russell quickest in final practice
After a 90-minute long FP2 on Thursday night, the drivers weren’t chomping at the bit to get back on track when FP3 got the green light. The McLaren teammates were the first to trickle out, soon followed by others with the drivers on a mix of all three of the Pirelli compounds.
While McLaren set about scuffing up a set of mediums and then hard tyres, putting a lap on each, George Russell laid down the opening gambit, a 1:43.6, which was some eight seconds down on last night’s P1 time from Charles Leclerc.
Zhou Guanyu went second behind his teammate Valtteri Bottas but then had a massive lock-up and headed down the Turn 12 escape road. It wasn’t long before the Ferraris were on top as they were on Thursday, Leclerc putting in a 1:38.9 to sit 0.4s ahead of Carlos Sainz.
Ferrari appeared to spend some time practicing the tow with Sainz, who has a 10-place grid penalty for taking a new battery after his FP1 drama, giving Leclerc his slipstream. The Monégasque extended his advantage to 1:36.5.
15 minutes into the session there was no sign of Max Verstappen nor Sergio Perez with AlphaTauri and Williams also sitting in the garage.
Kevin Magnussen had a moment at Turn 5 with Leclerc at the tight Turn 5 as the Dane was lapping very slowly on the racing line only to get squeezed towards the wall by the Ferrari driver who was on a hot lap.
Verstappen finally ventured out just before the halfway point, the reigning World Champion up to third place with a very, very close encounter with the Turn 12 wall. He was 0.2s down on the P1 time.
Perez was P6 and then P1, before Verstappen hit the front with a 1:34.6. Alex Albon was up to third behind the Red Bull teammates.
Bolting on a new set of soft tyres, Russell went with an additional warm-up lap and went P3 while Hamilton just did one out-lap and then his hot one. He was only seventh but was told he’d find a “lot more on the second push” lap. His teammate Russell did, up to P1 with a 1:34.5.
As more drivers swapped to fresh soft tyres for the final 10 minutes, Verstappen had to bail out after a lock up and off at Turn 12, Ricciardo went off at the same corner, Oscar Piastri went P1, and Russell grabbed a tow from Norris to retake P1 by 0.4s.
The yellow flags were out for Albon as he took off his rear-left tyre as he hit the wall hard. He tyre rolled across the track but stopped at a marshal’s post, making it easy to retrieve it.
But with Albon stopping on the side of the track out came the red flags with 4 minutes remaining, the session over. That put paid to Leclerc’s hot lap, the Ferrari driver having been flying.
The session did not restart, Russell finishing P1 ahead of Piastri and Logan Sargeant.
1 George RUSSELL Mercedes 1:34.093
2 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.398
3 Logan SARGEANT Williams +0.552
4 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.560
5 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.613
6 Alexander ALBON Williams +0.633
7 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.695
8 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.760
9 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +0.815
10 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +0.974
11 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.996
12 Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +1.019
13 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +1.160
14 Esteban OCON Alpine +1.204
15 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +1.788
16 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +1.815
17 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +1.846
18 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +1.994
19 Pierre GASLY Alpine +2.392
20 Daniel RICCIARDO AlphaTauri +3.685