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

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

The Mexican driver clocked 1:45.047 to lead his teammate by 0.137 seconds while Carlos Sainz, P7, lost another six tenths.

Charles Leclerc’s other Ferrari showed good pace and was in the top four when he spun through the gravel at Turn 12, scoring the barrier with the front right of his F1-75.

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

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

George Russell found himself terribly behind, 1.3 seconds behind in the first sector alone despite using the soft tyres. He signals D-rates on the exit of the last corner before declaring after three laps that his tires are “gone”.

With championship leader Max Verstappen facing a back-of-the-grid engine penalty, he opted to focus on sim racing, clocking 2.6 seconds behind Alfa Romeo teammates.

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

Mick Schumacher, another driver who went silent, returned to the Haas garage after the team discovered a sensor problem. His teammate Kevin Magnussen edged out the Aston Martin drivers to take third place.

Ferrari joined the action midway through the session, Carlos Sainz immediately moved up to P1 with a 1:46.4 which was 0.4s quicker than Charles Leclerc’s best. The Monegasque driver is another penalty taker, as is Esteban Ocon who spent part of his session practicing towing Fernando Alonso.

Sergio Perez ended the Ferrari 1-2 with a 1:45.9 while Albon in the Williams took third and Hamilton P5. As the drivers switched to the new soft tyres, Leclerc regained third place ahead of Albon, Bottas, Stroll and Nicholas Latifi. Hamilton in eighth place.

Taking fuel from his Red Bull, Verstappen put on a fresh set of soft tires 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 clocked a 1:45.4 to reach the top.

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

The session was marked by a red flag with eight minutes on the clock when Leclerc spun through the gravel at turn 12 and hit the barrier. He was able to continue, slowing the return to the Ferrari garage.

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

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

Time

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 rounds
19 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing + 2.042 20 laps
20 Mick Schumacher Haas + 7.447 6 laps



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

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