Formula 1 Racing

Russell fastest as red flag ends FP3 early

Russell fastest as red flag ends FP3 early

Following a disrupted first day of running on Thursday night and Friday morning, most of which was held behind closed doors, fans were welcomed back into the grandstands to witness final practice on the streets of Las Vegas.

With the track re-opened for road traffic during the day, action got underway at 8:30pm local time on a circuit with different grip levels compared to how the drivers left it at 4am earlier in the day.

Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz continued where they left off after taking a 1-2 in FP2, leading early doors in the same positions.

The first 20 minutes were marked by an odd duel between Leclerc and Kevin Magnussen, the Monegasque driver holding up the Haas driver before the latter seemed to return the favour.

At the halfway mark Red Bull got involved at the front, with Sergio Perez leading the way on softs by virtue of a 1m35.146s lap, before world champion Max Verstappen went half a second quicker with a 1m34.653s effort.

On softs Williams’ Alex Albon then split the Red Bulls and the Ferraris with third, on a circuit that his team is tipped to perform well at.

It took until the final quarter for the top times to tumble again, Russell beating Verstappen’s benchmark by 0.068s as the track continued to grip up and more drivers shifted to qualifying simulations.

Verstappen was poised to retaliate with a purple first sector, but followed AlphaTauri’s Daniel Ricciardo into the Turn 12 run-off area.

That opened the door for Russell and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri to trade the lead, with Russell ahead until a red flag five minutes before the end, which curtailed FP3.

The stoppage was caused by Albon, who tapped the wall hard coming out of Turn 5 and lost the left-rear wheel on his Williams.

With Albon unable to finish his final flyer, team-mate Logan Sargeant took up the mantle to claim third after what had been a promising display for the Grove team.

Verstappen was demoted to fourth after his off-track moment, which was still enough to stay in front of Perez and Albon.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was seventh ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, with Valtteri Bottas and Magnussen rounding out the top 10.

Lando Norris was another driver that saw his final push lap compromised after catching a huge slide out of Turn 12. He narrowly avoided the wall but the lost lap time meant he had to settle for 11th.

Nico Hulkenberg was 12th ahead of Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon and Zhou Guanyu.

Setting their…

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