FP3 for the 2022 Miami Grand Prix saw Sergio Perez go top of the timing screens, as Max Verstappen spun off on his final attempt of a hot lap.
Behind Perez, Charles Leclerc took second, with 2021 Formula 1 Champion Verstappen in third, as Red Bull and Ferrari restored the pecking order after Mercedes’ disturbance on Friday.
The final practice session for the 2022 Miami Grand Prix came after a Friday that left us with several unanswered questions, that added to the intrigue of being at a brand new circuit.
Mercedes came with updates to their W13 and George Russell put them to good use going second fastest in FP1 and fastest in FP2, and while Lewis Hamilton was not as fast as his teammate, Mercedes seem to be in a good place in Miami, so is the progress genuine?
Toto Wolff is cautious
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said to the media: “We have just managed to find the lap times. It’s not like we have brought a ground-breaking solution so I would express caution at this stage.
“The circumstances favoured us. The picture will be better but not good enough,” he added.
Red Bull, with Max Verstappen in particular suffered from overhearing during FP1, while showing some good pace, but then a hydraulic failure on the #1 RB18 ruled the Dutchman out of any running, so how will he react, and can his team sort out the reliability gremlins that popped out?
And let’s not forget Carlos Sainz, who crashed out of FP2, as he is still struggling to feel at easy with his 2022 Ferrari. Can he recover from his mistake? The car seems to be in decent form with Charles Leclerc going fastest in the first practice session, and second fastest in the afternoon.
Miami International Autodrome not an easy circuit
The track layout seems to be posing a challenge for all drivers, as it seems that its bumpy nature means that any drifting away from the racing line meaning loss of grip, something that Lando Norris complained about.
Jenson Button reflected on the Miami track on Sky Sports F1, and said: “It’s not an easy circuit. It’s really challenging the drivers. There’s no real high speed here.
“There’s a couple of corners – four and five – but it’s mostly low-speed stuff and that’s where the Mercedes is strong.
“When these guys are making a tiny mistake they are getting penalised massively. As soon as they step off that line it’s really dirty,” Button explained.
The extended Red Flag periods in FP2 meant that most teams are lacking some experience on the long runs with heavy fuel loads.
Miami FP3 – Session insights
Esteban Ocon brought out the Red Flags, 15 minutes into the session, as he crashed his Alpine at the same place where Sainz binned his Ferrari in FP2 on Friday.
Ocon’s wrecked Alpine was cleared from the track with 33 minutes remaining from the final practice session before qualifying. Alpine later announced on social media that Ocon was given the all clear by the FIA medical crew, after the Frenchman was admitted into the medical center since the impact was over the G limit.
Valtteri Bottas who crashed his Alfa Romeo in FP1 and missed FP2, has a new turbo, new MGU-H and a new gearbox installed on his C42.
Although “porpoising” was less severe in general around the Miami track, Pierre Gasly reported that his AlphaTauri was bouncing around everywhere like a “Kangaroo”.
Gasly was shown the black and white flag earlier in the session for crossing the line at the pit exit.
The lap times started to fall towards the end of the session, as the track evolved, with many of the midfield cars visiting the top four at some point.
With two minutes to go, and while on a hot lap, Verstappen lost control of his RB18 at Turn 14, kept it out of the wall, but his lap was ruined.
Sergio Perez’ time of 1:30.304 was good for top spot, and for a moment his position was threatened by his teammate Verstappen who was on a hot lap setting purple sectors, but his spin at Turn 14 meant Perez kept his position while the Dutchman had to settle for third 0.345s off the pace.
Leclerc split the Red Bull pair in second, 0.194s slower than Perez, but should be wary of the fact that his rival, Verstappen still has some more pace in him.
Fernando Alonso took an excellent fourth for Alpine, a consolation for the team after losing Esteban Ocon’s services early on due to his crash. The Spaniard was 0.732s slower than the top time.
Four time World Champion Sebastian Vettel was fifth for Aston Martin, 0.013s further down the road, and was followed by compatriot Mick Schumacher, a negligible 0.001s adrift in sixth.