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.
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.
FORMULA 1 STC SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX 2022
Practice 3 results
|1 Charles LECLERC Ferrari||1:29.735|
|2 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing||+0.033s|
|3 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing||+0.098s|
|4 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari||+0.274s|
|5 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo||+0.295s|
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.