Charles Leclerc made it three in a row going fastest in FP3 in Barcelona, slightly ahead of Max Verstappen with the Mercedes duo chasing hard.
The Monegasque kept his firm grip on the top spot for the third practice session in a row, but Verstappen closed the gap in second, while George Russell validated Mercedes’ progress to go third fastest.
Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest in the sister Mercedes.
Hours away from qualifying in Barcelona for the 2022 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix, FP3 was underway at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the last chance for all the teams to dial their cars in before things get serious.
With many teams bringing upgrades to their cars, it becomes critical for them to understand their updated machines as fast as possible before they send them out for the qualifying shoot out.
With Barcelona being notorious for the absence of overtaking opportunities, and the new generation of F1 cars yet to prove they facilitate overtaking despite their ability to follow closer, the emphasis is on achieving the track position for the race on Sunday.
It would be interesting to see if Mercedes can continue the resurgence they showed during FP1 and FP2, as the upgraded W13 seemed to be more tame.
Damon Hill spoke of Mercedes on Sky Sport F1 and said: “The vibe coming out of Mercedes was very, very positive, they could hardly contain their excitement actually.”
Can Mercedes keep the momentum?
Aston Martin, on the other hand, are under the spotlight for their “Green Bull” that showed some promise in the afternoon session on Friday after a slow start to their revamped AMR22.
Ferrari seemed to be in good shape over one lap, but suffered degradation on long runs, with the opposite applying to Red Bull.
The damage Lando Norris caused on his McLaren during FP2 also require a chassis change for the MCL36, while Carlos Sainz switched to a new chassis as well after suffering a fuel system issue on his F1-75.
Mattia Binotto said of Sainz’s problem: “We had to change the chassis simply because he had fuel leakage on his fuel system which was not clear where it was coming from.
“We would have lost time simply trying to understand where it was coming from and trying to repair and we opted for a change of chassis,” he added.
FP3 Session Insights
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly has barely done any running when he returned to the pit with a smoking car. Game over for the Frenchman, quite a hit ahead of qualifying.
the team has spotted an issue on @PierreGASLY’s car that needs to be investigated
Mick Schumacher suffered a brake problem 15 minutes into the session, as his rear right brakes seemed to blow up, and returned to the pits with fire engulfing his rear right tyre, the German unable to stop the car and overshooting his team’s garage.
Mick Schumacher’s brakes are feeling the Barcelona heat! 🔥