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FP3: Piastri fastest during final practice session in Imola after Alonso and Perez crashes cause red flags

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Oscar Piastri of Australia driving the (81) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes on track

McLaren's Oscar Piastri interrupted Ferrari’s run at the top of the timesheets at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix weekend by setting the pace in the third and final practice session, leading the way from Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz in a twice-red flagged hour.

Norris had led out a number of drivers as the session got under way in warm and bright conditions, with the wind speed having died down a little after proving tricky for some on Friday.

PRACTICE DEBRIEF: Do on-form Ferrari really have Red Bull on the back foot at Imola?

Amongst those to hit the track early were the Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. The team had carried out set-up changes on the RB20 overnight, having endured some issues with balance during FP1 and FP2.

Elsewhere Ferrari bolted on the soft tyres for their first laps as they looked to prepare for qualifying, with Leclerc initially setting the pace on a lap of 1m 16.281s.

Emilia-Romagna 2024

Practice 3 results

PositionTeam NameTime
1PIA1:15.529
2NOR+0.3s
3SAI+0.538s
4LEC+0.558s
5RUS+0.566s
View Full Results

While some were happy to bide their time in the pits for the first segment of FP3, the lap times began to tumble as more cars started to join the fray. The action was brought to a halt, however when Fernando Alonso crashed into the barriers after losing the rear through Rivazza.

While the Spaniard fortunately emerged unharmed, his Aston Martin did not look to be in quite such good shape as the red flags were thrown to remove the car from the track. The session soon resumed just past the halfway point, with a queue of cars having formed in the pit lane as they awaited the green light.

READ MORE: FP2: Leclerc stays in front during second practice in Imola from Piastri and Tsunoda

As the final laps were coming in during a busy end to the hour, there was another pause to proceedings when Perez hit the wall at Turn 15, bringing out the red flags. The Mexican was okay and, with the car quickly cleared, the session began again with just two minutes left on the clock.

WATCH: The fight for track position gets feisty in final moments of practice

This prompted another frantic dash to get back on track, with some failing to cross the line in time to get a last lap on the board. It was Piastri who ended FP3 in P1 with a time of 1m 15.529s, three-tenths clear of McLaren team mate Norris in second, while Sainz and Leclerc followed for Ferrari in third and fourth.

2024 Emilia Romagna GP FP3: Alonso crashes to bring out red flags in final practice

George Russell was the lead Mercedes in fifth, ahead of Verstappen in sixth while Alex Albon enjoyed a better day for Williams in seventh. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top-10.

Daniel Ricciardo was 11th for RB, with Perez ending up in 12th following his late crash. RB’s Yuki Tsunoda took 13th, while the Kick Sauber of Valtteri Bottas claimed 14th and Logan Sargeant slotted into 15th place in the Williams.

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Haas’s Kevin Magnussen went P16 from Lewis Hamilton in P17, who had complained of issues with the ride height of his Mercedes during the session. Alonso was P18 following his earlier incident, with Pierre Gasly in the Alpine and Kick Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu completing the order in P19 and P20.

All eyes will now turn to qualifying, which is set to take place later this afternoon at 1600 local time.

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