Formula 1 Racing

Leclerc leads Verstappen and Hamilton in FP3


The session was red-flagged after the opening 10 minutes when Valtteri Bottas clipped the Swimming Pool exit wall, an impact that broke the front-right suspension on his Sauber and caused him to stop at Rascasse. 

Once the Finn’s car was moved behind the barriers as he could not recover to the pitlane, the session resumed in earnest – with all cars taking to the circuit on high fuel to log multiple laps in preparation for qualifying.

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Hamilton’s pre-hiatus fastest lap was quickly beaten by team-mate George Russell, who in turn was drawn into an early battle over top spot with Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg.

The two were outpaced by Oscar Piastri, who had drawn the times down to a 1m12.684s, before FP2 headliner Charles Leclerc went over a tenth quicker to move to the zenith of the order.

The Monegasque followed a similar trajectory to his efforts in FP2, where he continuously found time over the session as the fuel burned off and landed on a 1m11.977s at the end of his first set of soft tyres.

After a switch to a new set of the red-walled Pirellis, Leclerc turned up the wick and unearthed a 1m11.369s to put over 0.6s on team-mate Carlos Sainz – who had not long got within 0.002s of Leclerc’s previous benchmark.

Given Leclerc’s advantage, second was once again the main field of competition and Max Verstappen dialled himself in enough to claim a 1m11.566s, having often gained time in the opening sector but lost it in the next two.

The Dutch driver attempted to improve his time towards the end of the session, but got blocked into Rascasse by team-mate Sergio Perez.

Hamilton was third fastest despite a less-than-clean session, having got baulked by the stranded Bottas earlier in the session and then losing track time to a heavy Sainte Devote lock-up – where he heavily flat-spotted his tyres.

Piastri claimed the fourth fastest time, which could not be beaten by Perez’s last-minute lap that was good enough for fifth; the Mexican stated over the radio that the car was “nowhere”.

Russell and Sainz claimed the sixth and seventh fastest times, as Lando Norris was just 0.009s behind his former team-mate – having survived a near-miss with Russell on the exit of the tunnel.

Yuki Tsunoda again impressed with the ninth fastest time, as Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 having spent the first half of the session circulating on the medium tyre.

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