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Charles Leclerc

Leclerc stuns Verstappen with last-gasp flyer in final practice

Charles Leclerc has continued where he left off on Friday in Saudi Arabia, putting in a late flying lap to pip Max Verstappen to top spot in FP3.

Charles Leclerc set the fastest time of the third and final practice session in Saudi Arabia, with the Ferrari driver putting in his best effort right at the chequered flag during the final hour of track time before qualifying on Saturday evening.

Following on from him going quickest in the first practice sessions of the Jeddah weekend on Friday, Leclerc ramped up his pace over his Soft tyre runs to put in a 1:29.735 as lap times dipped below the 1:30 mark for the first time this weekend.

Verstappen was the first driver to break the barrier, putting in a 1:29.768, as he attacked over two flying laps on the Soft compound.

The Dutchman appeared as though he had more time at his disposal, having set a new personal best first sector and fastest overall second sector, but made an error through Turn 22 that resulted in him backing out of the lap. He was more than three-tenths quicker than his benchmark at the time of the error.

But while Verstappen failed to improve on his lap, Leclerc managed to do so with his final run. Emerging on another set of Softs, Leclerc crossed the line on his last lap to rise to the top and pip Verstappen by 0.033 seconds.

Verstappen's 1:29.768 was just 0.065s up on teammate Sergio Perez, with Leclerc's lap ruining a 1-2 for Red Bull in the closing minutes of the session.

Carlos Sainz finished fourth in the other Ferrari, just over a quarter of a second down on his teammate. Having set a purple first sector, the time ebbed away through the second and third sector as he put in a 1:30.009.

Result Free practice 3 - Saudi Arabian

Pos. Driver Team Time
Results are being loaded...

Who was best of the rest?

Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas placed in fifth, leading the battle of the midfield, as the Finn rose as high as second during the transition to the Soft tyre qualifying runs. His time was just 0.021s away from what Sainz had managed in the works Ferrari, and 0.262s down on Verstappen's pace.

Esteban Ocon was sixth for Alpine, ahead of AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly in seventh. The latter had a compromised session, as he trundled to a halt in the pit lane exit halfway through the hour. He reported a suspected driveshaft issue, losing all drive and requiring him to climb out and push the car back into the pits to be recovered to the garage.

Kevin Magnussen recovered from his heavily-disrupted Friday to finish in eighth for Haas, just half a second from the top, with Alpine's Fernando Alonso and AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda rounding out the top 10.

Mercedes fail to impress again

Surprisingly, the reigning Constructors' World Champions failed to trouble the top 10 with either driver.

Lewis Hamilton's best lap on the Soft tyre was only good enough for 11th place, almost a second away from the top, while George Russell remained in midfield anonymity down in 14th.

Russell also caught the attention of the stewards during the session, having crossed the white line at the exit of the pit lane early on in the hour.

At a power-demanding circuit, Mercedes engines made up the rear of the field. Aside from the two factory cars, the two McLarens placed in 16th and 19th with Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris respectively. Williams' Alex Albon was 17th, with teammate Nicholas Latifi in 20th, while Aston Martin could only manage 15th and 18th with their two drivers.

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F1 2022 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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