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Practice report
Formula 1 Spanish GP

F1 Spanish GP: Sainz fastest from Norris in tight final practice

Home hero Sainz eclipsed former team-mate Norris by a small margin in Formula 1 practice at Barcelona; top four all within a tenth of a second

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Carlos Sainz closed out Formula 1 free practice at the Spanish Grand Prix with the best time in FP3, ahead of Lando Norris by 0.03 seconds.

Sainz managed to beat Norris' soft-tyre benchmark in the final flurry of qualifying simulations, doing what the Mercedes duo and Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc could not.

A slow start to the session ensured that Lewis Hamilton had the circuit to himself in the opening five minutes, which he used to set the soft-tyre benchmark with a 1m14.178s - almost a second shy of his FP2 headliner.

He brought this down to a 1m13.865s shortly after Max Verstappen had set a 1m14.237s on mediums, but had to cede the advantage when George Russell punched in a 1m13.431s time to go fastest.

The two Mercedes were split by the Ferrari drivers; Sainz went up to second, just a tenth shy of Russell's lap, and Leclerc was a mere three-hundredths away from his team-mate after missing the bulk of FP2.

Norris then elbowed his way between Russell and the Ferraris on a lap on mediums, 0.001s clear of Sainz's previous lap. McLaren's preparation ahead of FP3 was almost derailed by a fire in its motorhome, but both drivers were able to take to the circuit with minimal loss in track time.

This early order shuffling ended with a series of longer runs, ahead of a late-session tombola instigated by the final flying runs in preparation for qualifying.

Both McLaren drivers backed out of their initial flyers, Norris aborting his lap through Turn 7 and Piastri doing so before Turn 3, but Norris went again to claim a 1m13.043s on his next attempt.

The Mercedes drivers found improvement and Hamilton clinched a purple middle sector, but a few snaps of oversteer cost him three tenths at the end of the lap. Russell, for his part, put in a time that was just 0.121s shy of Norris' effort.

Sainz overturned Norris' time, however, and punched in a 1m13.013s to put his Ferrari top. This looked set to be eclipsed by Charles Leclerc, but a slight wide moment at Turn 11 took some of the sting out of his lap and put him third - a mere 0.037s shy of Sainz's time.

Norris preserved second as there were no further improvements, although had a contretemps with Leclerc at the end of the session as the Monegasque cut across a slow Norris into Turn 6 and the two made contact.

Verstappen and Russell were fourth and fifth fastest, while sixth-placed Hamilton had his own contact at the end of the first sector with Lance Stroll; Hamilton seemed to impede Stroll slightly and attempted to back out at Turn 5 to let the Aston through, but Stroll appeared to wash out mid-corner and took a swipe at the Mercedes driver.

Sergio Perez, who carries a grid penalty into qualifying, was seventh fastest; just 0.03s ahead of Williams' Alex Albon. Fernando Alonso and Piastri completed the top 10.

Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 19


2 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes 14



0.030 229.525
3 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari 18



0.007 229.503
4 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 24



0.037 229.386
5 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes 20



0.077 229.145
6 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 26



0.195 228.536
7 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 19



0.364 227.408
8 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 Williams Mercedes 14



0.030 227.315
9 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes 21



0.033 227.213
10 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 14



0.121 226.841
11 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 Alpine Renault 18



0.043 226.709
12 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 Alpine Renault 14



0.014 226.667
13 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 Haas Ferrari 20



0.011 226.633
14 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 Sauber Ferrari 19



0.049 226.483
15 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 Haas Ferrari 27



0.050 226.330
16 Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 RB Red Bull 17



0.087 226.064
17 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 Aston Martin Mercedes 16



0.093 225.781
18 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 RB Red Bull 22



0.166 225.278
19 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 Sauber Ferrari 17



0.152 224.818
20 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 Williams Mercedes 12



0.157 224.346

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