Perez fastest in slippery final practice

Sergio Perez

 

Sergio Perez has made the best of slippery track conditions to go fastest in Free Practice 3 for the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver demonstrated strong pace throughout the session, usurping team-mate Max Verstappen by almost 0.2s.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were third and fourth, though more than 0.6s away from the pace.

The track remained silent even once the session formally began as oil dropped during a support session had left the circuit slippery.

Yuki Tsunoda was the first to venture forth after seven minutes, the slow start seeing only Lance Stroll and George Russell doing likewise in the first 15 minutes.

Things began to ramp up after 18 minutes, Lando Norris, Kimi Raikkonen, and the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz heading out.

With none of the heavy hitters on track in the early stages, the times were predictably sluggish; Raikkonen best with a 1:19.299s.

After 25 minutes, Hamilton was the first front-runner to begin a qualifying simulation run.

The Mercedes driver banked a 1:18.770s, more than two seconds adrift of times from the same session in 2019, highlighting the lack of grip.

With Lando Norris set to take an engine penalty, he and Daniel Ricciardo practiced using the slipstream to benefit the Australian down the long front straight.

It netted Ricciardo a 1:18.406s, the second fastest time behind Leclerc’s 1:18.213s.

The braking zone into Turn 1 was again a hot spot, with Norris, Hamilton and Fernando Alonso all skating off the road after pinching a tyre on approach.

Verstappen’s first flying lap netted him a 1:17.537s to move 0.3s clear of team-mate Perez who’d improved to a 1:17.934s.

On his third simulation run, Bottas recorded a 1:17.708s to split the two Red Bulls, a time set on scrubbed soft tyres.

Having remained on track, Verstappen then set a 1:17.217s to move 0.4s clear of the rest of the field.

On a simulation lap, Leclerc had a spin exiting Turn 3, pitching the Ferrari into a pirouette with 18 minutes remaining.

No sooner had he recovered did Mercedes bolt on a set of new soft compound tyres to both cars and send them out.

Hamilton’s effort resulted in a 1:17.903s, an improvement on his own previous best but still 0.6s shy of Verstappen’s session best.

Perez rose to second fastest with a 1:17.272s, leaving him just 0.055s away from the top of the timesheets.

After the circuit had been empty for the opening minutes, the final moments of the session were dictated by traffic – primarily in the stadium section at the end of the lap.

A late flying lap from Perez saw the Mexican fastest of anyone to the second split, carrying that pace for the balance of the lap to go fastest with a 1:17.024s.

Completing a timed lap with just under three minutes left on the clock, Verstappen was unable to improve and remained second quickest.

Behind the top four was Sainz, Tsunoda, Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly, Leclerc, and Norris.

Qualifying is next, beginning at 07:00 AEDT

Results: Formula 1 Mexico City Grand Prix, Free Practice 3

Pos Num Driver Team Time Diff Laps
1 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 1:17.024 15
2 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:17.217 +0.193s 12
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:17.675 +0.651s 14
4 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:17.708 +0.684s 17
5 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:18.029 +1.005s 20
6 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:18.037 +1.013s 25
7 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:18.121 +1.097s 15
8 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:18.202 +1.178s 18
9 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:18.213 +1.189s 20
10 4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:18.312 +1.288s 16
11 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:18.352 +1.328s 20
12 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1:18.531 +1.507s 22
13 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:18.556 +1.532s 19
14 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:18.614 +1.590s 17
15 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:18.847 +1.823s 15
16 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:18.999 +1.975s 17
17 63 George Russell Williams 1:19.211 +2.187s 19
18 47 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:19.238 +2.214s 14
19 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:19.313 +2.289s 12
20 9 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1:20.479 +3.455s 15

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