Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022

Leclerc leads Verstappen and Russell in close final practice for Spanish GP

2022 Spanish Grand Prix third practice

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Charles Leclerc completed a clean sweep of quickest times in all three practice sessions ahead of qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.

The Ferrari driver’s best time of a 1’19.772 was just 0.072s faster than Max Verstappen’s quickest lap. The Mercedes of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton ended the session in third and fourth, both comfortably within a quarter of a second of Leclerc’s best time.

Circuit conditions were even warmer for the third and final practice session at the Circuit de Catalunya, with ambient conditions at 31C for the final hour.

After McLaren changed Lando Norris’s chassis overnight following floor damage sustained at the turn nine kerbs, Norris was the first driver to set a lap time of a 1’23.641. He was joined on the track by Pierre Gasly, but the AlphaTauri was called back into the pits after the team spotted a problem on his AT03.

Valtteri Bottas wasted no time in trying to make up for the running he lost in second practice, heading out on the soft tyres and going quickest in the early moments.

Mick Schumacher had a scare when his rear right brake assembly caught fire, leading to the Haas mechanics having to spray extinguisher coolant onto his VF-22 when he brought the car back into the pit lane, failing to stop at his pit box with his brakes engulfed in flames. Eventually the fire was brought under control and pushed back into the garage, but it was the end of the session for Schumacher.

Carlos Sainz Jnr used the soft tyres to go quickest, but was replaced by team mate Leclerc not long after. After almost half an hour in the pits, Red Bull finally sent Max Verstappen out for his first run, using the softs to split the Ferraris in second.

Russell used the soft tyres to jump second, almost 0.15s away from Leclerc’s best, before Verstappen squeezed back to second less than a tenth away from the Ferrari. Hamilton put on a fresh set of softs and improved to fourth – ahead of Sainz and Sergio Perez but just behind his team mate.

In the final minutes of the session, almost the entire field took to the track for a last rehearsal for qualifying. However, none of the top runners improved their times, leaving Leclerc quickest of all over all three practice sessions.

Verstappen ended practice second quickest, with Russell behind in third. Hamilton finished the session in fourth, with Sainz and Perez behind him.

Norris ended the session seventh, with Kevin Magnussen eighth for Haas. Bottas took the chequered flag in ninth place, with Esteban Ocon concluding the top ten. After their earlier problems, both Gasly and Schumacher never made it back onto the circuit.

2022 Spanish Grand Prix third practice result

116Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’19.77223
21Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’19.8440.17412
363George RussellMercedesW131’19.9200.25016
444Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’20.0020.33218
555Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’20.1290.45923
611Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’20.2600.59019
74Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’20.4030.73318
820Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’20.6460.97621
977Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’20.7811.11124
1031Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’20.8821.21218
113Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’20.9101.24017
125Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’20.9441.27424
1314Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’20.9811.31117
1424Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’21.2011.53119
1522Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’21.4491.77922
1618Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’21.5201.85023
1723Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’21.5721.90218
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams-MercedesFW441’22.4192.74918
1947Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’25.4675.7974
2010Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT03No time1

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2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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6 comments on “Leclerc leads Verstappen and Russell in close final practice for Spanish GP”

  1. The Merc gains look genuine, qualy will be epic

    1. Yep!

      I wonder if the Redbull and Ferrari B-drivers are playing a sitting game?

      Just behind the Mercs, they could drive long to hold things up when the second pit stops occurs.

      Tires, this is where the race will be decided.

  2. The gaps in your table are wrong.

  3. Whatever caused Ferrari’s tyre problems on their long runs in FP2 yesterday, they seem to be solved (at least for now). They had better pace yesterday in FP1 and also Leclerc’s long run on the soft during the final 20 minutes of FP3 looked promising. His average pace over 11 laps was a full second(!) faster than yesterday on the mediums.
    As for qualifying, Charles is going to be very tough to beat, because the Ferrari is very quick through S2 and has got more traction than the RB or the Mercedes in the final sector. Ferrari might also have more up their sleeves in terms of engine power.
    It’s nice to see Mercedes finally making some progress. If one of their drivers nails the crucial Q2 lap, they might trouble Verstappen or Sainz and end up on the front row of the grid.

    1. Could be the a lot of reasons:

      🔹Higher engine mapping
      🔹Less fuel
      🔹Track evolution
      🔹Tweaked car setup

  4. Tire degradation will be a problem in the race for those who can’t manage their tires. It may even be a consequence of better down force, or the way they use ground effect’s down force. Think, grip, no grip, bite no bite as the porpoise down the track, and the way that energy goes through the tires.

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