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FP3: Leclerc leads Verstappen by 0.033s in final practice at Jeddah

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A late flyer from Charles Leclerc saw the Ferrari driver head the Red Bull pairing of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in Free Practice 3 for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

With the sun setting over the spectacular Jeddah Corniche Circuit, the session opened with the two Ferrari drivers trading fastest laps, with Leclerc – who went fastest in both FP1 and FP2 before clouting the wall and ending his Friday running early – setting the early benchmark, with a 1m 30.129s, narrowly ahead of Carlos Sainz.

AS IT HAPPENED: All the action from final practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

But Verstappen then put in what was then the fastest lap of the weekend with a 1m 29.768s halfway through the session, with Perez later posting a lap that put him 0.065s adrift of his team mate. However, with Verstappen on a better lap late on, the Dutchman ran over the kerbs at Turn 22, wheelieing his RB18 before landing heavily and retreating briefly to the garage.

Leclerc wasn’t done though, and with the clock having run to zero, the Monegasque posted a 1m 29.735s, to make it a clean sweep of P1s in practice this weekend, and give the Bahrain GP winner confidence heading into qualifying, having finished 0.033s ahead of Verstappen.

Saudi Arabia 2022

Practice 3 results

PositionTeam NameTime
1LEC1:29.735
2VER+0.033s
3PER+0.098s
4SAI+0.274s
5BOT+0.295s
View Full Results

Sainz would end up behind the two Red Bulls in P4, 0.274s off his team mate, while a superb effort from Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas put him P5 – Bottas’ assertion that he didn’t expect to be competitive this weekend seemingly not marrying up with the pace in his C42.

P4 in the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Esteban Ocon went P6 with a late effort for Alpine, ahead of the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly – who was forced to stop in the pit exit and push his car backwards with half an hour to go, the team suspecting a clutch issue.

Kevin Magnussen continued to impress with P8 for Haas, with Fernando Alonso and Yuki Tsunoda – equipped with a number of new power unit elements after his late stoppage in FP2 – rounding out the top 10.

READ MORE: Lawson takes victory in Saudi Arabian Sprint Race as Sargeant and Doohan come together

FP3 Highlights: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

There was bad news for the Mercedes-powered runners, with none of them making the top 10, Lewis Hamilton their leading protagonist in P11 – nearly a second off the pace and just ahead of the Haas of Mick Schumacher.

Zhou Guanyu was 13th and ahead of the second Mercedes of George Russell, with Lance Stroll Aston Martin’s best finisher in 15th. Daniel Ricciardo was 16th for McLaren, ahead of the Williams of Alex Albon and the Aston Martin of the team’s Sebastian Vettel replacement, Nico Hulkenberg, in P18.

READ MORE: Red Bull anticipate scrap with Ferrari for pole after close showing in Friday practice

Norris was P19 in the second McLaren, having encountered traffic on one of his fast laps, while Nicholas Latifi was 20th, having struck the outside wall at Turn 2 late on in the session.

So it’s Red Bull and Ferrari practically neck and neck ahead of qualifying (2000 local time) in Saudi Arabia. Who can emerge on top beneath the lights in Jeddah?

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