Charles Leclerc led the third and final free practice session of the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain.
Max Verstappen finished in second position, just 0.072 seconds slower than the Scuderia Ferrari driver. George Russell finished in third position at the end of the session
The third free practice session of the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya started in baking hot conditions with air temperatures at 31 degrees C and track temperatures at 43 degrees C.
The hardest tyres in the Pirelli range of tyres has been designated for this race – white-striped hard compound tyres (C1), yellow-striped medium compound tyres (C2), red-striped soft compound tyres (C3).
Lando Norris was the first driver out on the track. The young Briton had just 6 laps in second practice because he suffered damage to his chassis. Norris has a new chassis and set the first timed lap of 1m23.641s on the medium compound tyres.
Pierre Gasly returned to the pits with a Power Unit (PU) issue causing smoke to pour out of the rear of the car. Valtteri Bottas who also lost a lot of time in Friday practice due to PU issues came out on the soft compound tyres and slotted into first position with a lap time of 1m 21.326s.
Mick Schumacher returned to the pits with his rear brakes on fire. Carlos Sainz also had a change of chassis overnight due to a fuel pump issue.
With fifteen minutes to go, more than half the field had not set timed laps. Sainz went fastest but was soon displaced from the top spot by Leclerc with a lap time of 1m20.278s.
The two Oracle Red Bull Racing drivers, Verstappen and Sergio Pérez, slotted into second and fourth positions respectively on their first timed laps.
Russell was in fifth position, 0.735 seconds behind the leader. Lewis Hamilton was 0.487 seconds slower than his team-mate but returned to the pits with a DRS-related issue.
With thirty minutes to go, the order at the top of the time sheets was Leclerc, Verstappen, Sainz, Pérez, Russell, Hamilton, Bottas, Ocon, Zhou Guanyu and Fernando Alonso.
As the track rubbered in and the conditions improved, Kevin Magnussen and Bottas slotted into fifth and sixth positions respectively on the time sheets.
Leclerc on his first flying lap on a second set of soft compound tyres improved his lap time to a 1m19.772s. Russell then slotted into second position, just 0.148 seconds slower than Leclerc.
Verstappen then slotted into second position on his second run, just 0.072 seconds slower than Leclerc. Hamilton was in fourth position behind his team-mate Russell. Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team are definitely in the game this weekend.
Norris in the final minutes of the session finished in seventh position with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in eleventh position.
The session ended with Leclerc, Verstappen, Russell, Hamilton, Sainz, Pérez, Norris, Magnussen, Bottas, and Esteban Ocon in the top ten positions.
The pole position is going to be hotly contested by Leclerc and Verstappen with the Mercedes drivers in the mix.
2022 Spanish Grand Prix FP3 Results:
|1||16||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1:19.772||22|
|2||1||Max Verstappen||NED||Oracle Red Bull Racing||1:19.844||+0.072s||11|
|3||63||George Russell||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:19.920||+0.148s||15|
|4||44||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team||1:20.002||+0.230s||17|
|5||55||Carlos Sainz||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||1:20.129||+0.357s||22|
|6||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Oracle Red Bull Racing||1:20.260||+0.488s||18|
|7||4||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1:20.403||+0.631s||17|
|8||20||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||Haas F1 Team||1:20.646||+0.874s||20|
|9||77||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:20.781||+1.009s||23|
|10||31||Esteban Ocon||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1:20.882||+1.110s||17|
|11||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1:20.910||+1.138s||16|
|12||5||Sebastian Vettel||GER||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:20.944||+1.172s||23|
|13||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1:20.981||+1.209s||16|
|14||24||Zhou Guanyu||CHN||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:21.201||+1.429s||18|
|15||22||Yuki Tsunoda||JAP||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1:21.449||+1.677s||21|
|16||18||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team||1:21.520||+1.748s||22|
|17||23||Alexander Albon||THA||Williams Racing||1:21.572||+1.800s||17|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||CAN||Williams Racing||1:22.419||+2.647s||17|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||GER||Haas F1 Team||1:25.467||+5.695s||4|
|20||10||Pierre Gasly||FRA||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1|