FP3: Perez tops session as Mercedes descend the order

Henry Valantine
Sergio Perez rounds Turn 14. Miami GP May 2022.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez hits the apex of Turn 14 in practice. Miami May 2022.

Sergio Perez was fastest in FP3 for the Miami Grand Prix, pipping Charles Leclerc to top spot as his team-mate Max Verstappen made up for a lack of Friday running to go third quickest.

Several other teams showed a turn of pace too with Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, both Haas drivers, Williams’ Alex Albon and McLaren’s Lando Norris making it seven teams represented in the top 10.

But curiously absent were both Mercedes drivers. After showing promise on Friday, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell ranked P15 and P17 as they struggled to get their tyres into the right temperature window and the apparent return of ‘porpoising’ on Russell’s car.

After managing only 15 laps on a “horrible” Friday – only five of which were flying laps – it was unsurprising to see Verstappen straight out of the garage to pound around the Miami International Autodrome and make the most of the time available to him.

The drivers looked to make up for lost time after several red flags in Friday’s sessions had hampered their long-run practice. A total of 12 cars managed to get laps under their belts before the red flags came out again, however.

Esteban Ocon followed the example set by Carlos Sainz on Friday by dropping it on the exit of Turn 13, leaving his Alpine sliding backwards into the wall at Turn 14 and giving his crew work to do to get his car ready in time for qualifying.

Ten minutes passed before the cars could get going again and there was understandable clamour to get out on track to derive as much from the remainder of the session as possible – with all 19 remaining drivers heading out of the pit lane within two minutes of the lights going green again.

Verstappen’s early benchmark of a 1:31.355 remained the time to beat halfway through the session with drivers having run different plans – several trying out the hard tyres for a potential race strategy idea, including both McLaren drivers, Perez and both AlphaTauri drivers.

That left the leaderboard relatively static as the drivers gathered data for their teams, but Lando Norris had a heart-in-mouth moment on the exit of Turn 16, getting oversteer and being forced to brake before he slid into the wall – showing good reflexes to leave his McLaren undamaged.

Meanwhile, Leclerc eventually pipped Verstappen on a qualifying sim run, getting down into the 1:30s as Ferrari began to show their hand towards the end of the session.

Elsewhere, the high temperatures were causing issues for some teams, with Russell struggling to get his Mercedes where he wanted it on soft tyres, complaining they were “nowhere” while on a flying lap.

Red Bull then followed Ferrari in putting in quick times, with Perez and Verstappen both getting themselves to the top of the timings – Verstappen’s 1:30.649 being followed by his team-mate half a tenth behind.

The lap times began to fall as the session came closer to finishing, with the Floridian sun easing and allowing the drivers to push a bit harder with less fear of overheating.

But with Verstappen having set a purple sector, he had a hairy moment of his own as he leapt over the kerb at Turn 14, leaving the Dutchman as a passenger as he slid towards the wall on the exit of Turn 15. He just about avoided the wall though, saving his Red Bull mechanics from scrambling to mend his RB18 ahead of qualifying.



1 Sergio Perez Red Bull 1:30.304 21 laps
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.194s 23
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.345s 20
4 Fernando Alonso Alpine 0.732s 18
5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 0.745s 24
6 Mick Schumacher Haas 0.746s 19
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.868s 24
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas 0.923s 20
9 Alex Albon Williams 1.197s 14
10 Lando Norris McLaren 1.290s 18
11 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1.355s 24
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1.361s 22
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1.424s 19
14 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing 1.581s 26
15 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.586s 20
16 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.597s 18
17 George Russell Mercedes 1.620s 19
18 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing 1.747s 16
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 2.072s 16
20 Esteban Ocon Alpine No time set  3