Formula 1

FP3: Perez leads Leclerc by 0.041s ahead of crucial Monaco qualifying

Ahead of arguably the most important qualifying session of the year, it was Red Bull’s Sergio Perez who led the way in Free Practice 3 for the Monaco Grand Prix, finishing 0.041s ahead of local hero Charles Leclerc, as Carlos Sainz took P3.

With temperatures a toasty 27 degrees Celsius, the cars rumbled out onto the Monaco track beneath a blazing sun for the final hour of practice. Given qualifying is so crucial here due to the tight nature of the Monaco circuit and importance of track position, it was unsurprising to see drivers prioritising the softer end of the tyre spectrum in FP3, a number heading out immediately on the soft C5 tyres.

The first swathe of those soft runs in the opening 20 minutes saw Leclerc initially lead the way with a 1m 13.434s – with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen lurking 0.246s off the Monegasque’s pace, Sainz and Perez filing in behind.

With the teams pounding out lap after lap on the same tyres, Sergio Perez then took the lead 25 minutes in, only for Leclerc to lay down a juicy marker of a 1m 12.885s – 0.412s up on the Mexican’s time – before retreating to the pits to regroup.

Fast forward to the final 10 minutes, and the real qualifying simulations began, with the times tumbling in quick succession – Leclerc and Perez the two drivers looking in particularly fine nick around Monaco, as they went blow for blow with the P1 time, Perez ultimately coming out on top with a 1m 12.476s, the fastest lap of the weekend so far, but just 0.041s ahead of Leclerc.


Practice 3 results

1  Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing 1:12.476
2  Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.041s
3  Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.370s
4  Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.405s
5  Pierre GASLY AlphaTauri +0.734s

Sainz would end up 0.370s adrift of Perez, as Max Verstappen took P4 for the third successive practice session, the Dutchman 0.405s off his team mate and seemingly yet to find his comfort zone in Monaco this weekend.

Pierre Gasly was one of the stars of FP3, the Frenchman’s AlphaTauri working beautifully in the low-speed corners as he took P5, ahead of the equally impressive Lando Norris in the McLaren.

Mercedes’ drivers were heard complaining vocally about the poor ride on their W13, and that showed in the times, as Lewis Hamilton wound up P7, nine-tenths off the pace, and ahead of the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, team mate George Russell and the Alpine of Fernando Alonso rounding out the top 10.

The second AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda couldn’t quite match Gasly’s pace, as he took P11, ahead of the second Haas of Mick Schumacher. Sebastian Vettel was Aston Martin’s best-placed driver in P13, although the German was left ranting after coming across a slow-moving Sainz on the run up to Massenet. However, while that incident wasn’t investigated, others between Sainz and Lance Stroll, Perez and Russell and Verstappen and Zhou Guanyu will be analysed post-session.

Categories: Formula 1, Practice Results

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