FP3: Perez tops final practice at Austin as Verstappen and Hamilton have quicker laps deleted
Sergio Perez took top spot in the third and final practice session of the 2021 United States Grand Prix ahead of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and Perez's Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen, who had a quicker time deleted, in third.
The Mexican driver was also fastest in FP2 for Red Bull, with Bottas fastest in FP1 – but the Mercedes driver will take a five-place grid penalty on Sunday. In FP3, there was an early-session lull amid high temperatures and stiff winds – causing a couple of spins through the opening corners – before the field came out in force after 15 minutes.
READ MORE: 5 things we learned from Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix at COTA
With the track evolving rapidly and temperatures slightly dropping, Perez set the ultimate benchmark of 1m34.701s with 10 minutes remaining, keeping Ferrari's Sainz at bay by 0.104s and Verstappen behind by 0.211s. The Dutchman emerged to set a lap of 1m34.383s that would have put him top were it not deleted for exceeding Turn 19 track limits. A final qualifying effort was abandoned by Verstappen due to traffic at COTA – leading him to quip that he would "buy everyone glasses"...
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, P6, also fell foul of track limits, his time of 1m34.458s deleted for a Turn 9 violation just after Verstappen. That left Lando Norris fourth for McLaren and Hamilton's counterpart Bottas in P5.
FORMULA 1 ARAMCO UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX 2021
United States 2021
Practice 3 results
|1 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing||1:34.701|
|2 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari||+0.104s|
|3 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||+0.211s|
|4 Lando Norris NOR McLaren||+0.244s|
|5 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes||+0.287s|
Behind Hamilton was McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo in P7 and AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly in P8 – the Frenchman's team mate Yuki Tsunoda down in P18.
Charles Leclerc took ninth, 0.987s off the pace for Ferrari, to leave late improver Esteban Ocon of Alpine in P10. Sebastian Vettel therefore dropped down to P11 for Aston Martin.
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Kimi Raikkonen, 13th, was sandwiched between the two Williams – George Russell in 12th and Nicholas Latifi 14th, while Raikkonen's Alfa Romeo team mate Antonio Giovinazzi was 15th.
Alpine's Fernando Alonso, who will start from the back of the grid having taken all-new power unit components, finished 17th in this session behind Aston Martin's Lance Stroll.
AlphaTauri's Tsunoda was bumped down to 18th and ahead of Haas's Mick Schumacher (P19) and Nikita Mazepin (P20) in this session.
Perez has now led two sessions at the Circuit of The Americas but Verstappen and Hamilton clearly have pace up their sleeves. Who will take pole when qualifying begins at 1600 local time? Join us on F1.com for live coverage and reaction.