Perez tops the final Miami practice as Mercedes struggle

Perez tops the final Miami practice as Mercedes struggle

Sergio Perez set the fastest time for Red Bull in the final practice session, as Mercedes’ Friday pace was nowhere to be seen.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez set the pace in the last practice session for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, clocking 1m30.304s to edge championship leader Charles Leclerc and defending world champion Max Verstappen.

Red Bull ran flawlessly in the final practice in Miami, making up for the time lost on Friday. Running on the soft tyres, Sergio Perez set a time of 1m 30.304s at the Miami International Autodrome, with Max Verstappen coming in third.

On his final hot lap, the Dutchman was on track to post the fastest time until locking up at the chicane and nearly crashing into the barriers.

After losing crucial time on Friday, the reigning world champion completed a brief run on mediums, then a heavy fuel stint on the same set of tyres before focusing on qualifying simulation on a fresh set of soft tyres.

Charles Leclerc finished second, 0.194s behind Perez after completing 23 laps, making him one of the high runners in the session. Carlos Sainz, in the sister Ferrari, appeared to have recovered from his FP2 crash, but he was unable to match Leclerc’s speed in the final practice session.

Following three red flags in the previous two practice sessions, the first and the only red flag of the third practice session appeared in less than fifteen minutes. Esteban Ocon’s Alpine was the car in the wall, with the Frenchman losing the car in a manner similar to that of Carlos Sainz in second practice yesterday.

After the crash, which exceeded the G-force limit, the Alpine driver was transported to the hospital for precautionary checks.

By that point, Verstappen had set the fastest time of 1:31.355, about four-tenths faster than Leclerc, while Mick Schumacher was third with a 1:32.295, barely 0.040 seconds ahead of Russell.

Only twelve of the drivers had set timings, but all had gone out to the circuit at some stage, with the exception of the Williams vehicles and Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo.

Fernando Alonso finished fourth, 0.732 seconds behind the leaders as his teammate  Esteban Ocon, smashed into the wall at Turn 14 and was unable to set a timed lap.

With 33 minutes remaining in the session, the track was cleaned and the session continued, with all drivers, except Ocon, heading out right away.

It took half of the remaining time for a new fastest time to be posted, with Leclerc taking the lead from Verstappen once more with a 1:30.981. Ferrari couldn’t keep it for long, as Sergio Perez and then Max Verstappen both set 1:30.6s.

McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo had been running on the hard compounds for the entire of the session ranking at the bottom of the timings, but jumped up to 4th and 6th, respectively, while Alex Albon recorded a very excellent time in his Williams to finish fifth.

The track evolved into overdrive in the closing ten minutes as quick times poured in and the leaderboard was continuously changing. While Verstappen came dangerously close to colliding with the wall shortly after T14, the Dutch driver clipped the kerb, sending him nose first into the barriers, but slamming on the brakes brought him to a halt in time to save the car.

Following the close call, Verstappen failed to create another fast lap, leaving Perez to hold off the Ferraris. Perez did just that, posting a 1:30.304 to finish P1, just over two tenths clear of Leclerc.

Sebastian Vettel and the two Haas drivers, Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen, were the session’s stars, finishing fifth, sixth, and eighth respectively courtesy to fresh tyre runs in the closing minutes.

Albon finished ninth for Williams with a time of 1:31.501, while Norris rounded out the top ten nine hundredths off the benchmark time.

Mercedes had a difficult final practice in Miami after their great performance on Friday. After struggling with hot tyres, George Russell, who had topped FP2, finished just 17th, while teammate Lewis Hamilton also finished in P15.

Miami Grand Prix FP3 Results

111Sergio PerezRed Bull1:30.30420
216Charles LeclercFerrari1:30.498+0.194s23
31Max VerstappenRed Bull1:30.649+0.345s20
414Fernando AlonsoAlpine 1:31.036+0.732s17
55Sebastian VettelAston Martin1:31.049+0.745s23
647Mick SchumacherHaas1:31.050+0.746s18
755Carlos SainzFerrari1:31.172+0.868s23
820Kevin MagnussenHaas1:31.227+0.923s20
923Alexander AlbonWilliams1:31.501+1.197s14
104Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:31.594+1.290s18
1122Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Rbpt1:31.659+1.355s23
1218Lance StrollAston Martin1:31.665+1.361s21
133Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes1:31.728+1.424s18
1477Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:31.885+1.581s25
1544Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:31.890+1.586s19
1610Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Rbpt1:31.901+1.597s18
1763George RussellMercedes1:31.924+1.620s18
1824Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:32.051+1.747s16
196Nicholas LatifiWilliams1:32.376+2.072s16
2031Esteban OconAlpine3

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