Emilia Romagna GP FP3: Piastri tops incident packed session

Emilia Romagna GP FP3: Piastri tops incident packed session

Emilia Romagna GP FP3: Piastri tops incident packed session

Oscar Piastri topped the final practice session for the Emilia Romagna GP which was Red Flagged twice with incidents aplenty.

Fernando Alonso brought out the first Red Flag after crashing at Rivazza, while Sergio Perez caused the second with eight minutes remaining on the clock, compromising the final qualifying laps for everyone except Piastri who managed to put it the fastest time just before the Mexican crashed.

While the stricken Red Bull was cleared  quite fast, there were only two minutes remaining, meaning only Lando Norris could put in a lap, improving and going second fastest behind his teammate.

Carlos Sainz was next, third fastest in the Ferrari with Charles Leclerc behind him in fourth, their times set on Softs but much earlier in the session.

George Russell was fifth fastest in the Mercedes, ahead of reigning Formula 1 Champion Max Verstappen who was sixth fastest.

Verstappen’s best time was set also earlier in the session but on Medium tyres, and he was not far off the Ferraris on Soft, so is that a sign of improvement after Friday’s struggles?

Sadly we cannot know as the Red Flag caused by his teammate meant Verstappen could not do a proper qualifying run on the Softs, but we don’t have to wait long as qualifying is not far away.

And on that note, we can look forward to a thrilling session when on form Ferrari and McLaren seem to be favorites while Verstappen and Red Bull can never be ruled out of a comeback.

Buildup towards FP3

Friday at Imola left us with some interesting conclusions, as Ferrari dominated both FP1 and FP2, while McLaren showed some serious pace without headline times.

Ferrari have a major upgrade this weekend, and given they had only two practice sessions to dial the cars in, their pace is admirable.

As for McLaren, it is their second weekend with the upgraded MCL38, this weekend Piastri enjoying the full package – he only had part of it in Miami – and it seems they are still carrying the momentum from the previous race.

What of Mercedes? They were better than expected on Friday, especially in FP2, but do not forget that Red Bull’s struggles may have flattered the eight-time F1 Champions.

Speaking of Red Bull, what is going on there? For the second weekend in a row, they seem to arrive at a grand prix with a bad baseline setup. They usually turn things around from Friday to Saturday, so will that be the case at Imola?

Reportedly, Red Bull cancelled pit stop practice on Saturday morning as they opted to give full focus to changing the setup of their cars.

Aston Martin have been anonymous despite also having a huge upgrade on their car, so how will they carry on from here?

FP3 Session Highlights


The glorious conditions carried on into Saturday, as FP3 started with track temperatures at 43 degrees Celsius, as air temperature was 23 degrees.

To time wasted as teams set out on track to make the most out of the final practice session, ahead of the all important qualifying.

Ferrari started their practice on Softs while Red Bull opted for the Mediums, as Mercedes drivers remained out of their cars taking their time before joining the action.

McLaren also were still in the pits as well as the Haas, VCARBs and the Saubers.

Ten minutes into the session and the Red Bulls and Ferraris were alternating on the top spots, and Verstappen fired an early shot, going second fastest behind Leclerc, just 0.190s slower and on Mediums compared to the Softs for the Monegasque… Is the Dutchman back in the game?

Meanwhile Perez got out of shape out of the chicane and took to much kerb, giving his RB20 quite a beating.

Over 15 minutes into the session, and only eight drivers have set lap times, but soon the Mercedes get out on track, Lewis Hamilton that it. Russell soon joins as well as both Hulkenberg and Magnussen.

Verstappen soon has a moment coming out of Rivazza one wheel into the gravel but keeps going, while Alonso also hits the kerbs hard out of Turn 15.

Leclerc improves but Sainz shoots out to the top, 0.020s faster than his teammate, with Verstappen in third now.

With less than 40 minutes remaining from the session all the cars joined the action. Norris’ first lap on Medium tyres puts him fourth fastest behind Verstappen in third.

With 25 minutes gone, the Red Flag was out and the reason was Alonso who binned it coming out Rivazza, lost the rear and ended up in the barriers.

The Aston Martin took quite a hit on the rear, the left rear suspension destroyed, not to mention the possible need of a new gearbox.

However the Spaniard is ok and walks away from his car.

Replay showed that Loga Sargeant also had an off moment at the penultimate corner hit the kerbs very hard and having a gravel excursion.

In the mean time, Hamilton’s initial efforts put him 16th fastest, over two second away from Sainz’s time, the seven-time F1 Champion bewildered, he asked the team: “Where is all that two seconds?”

The session was green-lighted quite fast with a little under 30 minutes remaining.

Hamilton soon reports he is not happy with his W15, he said: “The car is riding high.” Russell on the other hand reported his car was bottoming at the end of the straight going into Turn 1.

In the McLaren, Piastri on a hot lap with Soft tyres messed up his exit of Turn 18, goes through the gravel, the car hitting the kerbs hard.

Hamilton also as an airborne moment at the chicane.

In the final eighth minutes, the teams set out for the final qualifying simulations before the real deal later this afternoon.

Piastri goes fastest first, and while we waited for Perez who was behind him, the Mexican binned it at the Variante Alta, going head on into the barriers, bringing up the second Red Flag.

However the session was resumed with a little over two minutes remaining and drivers raced out to try and put in a qualifying run before the time in over.

But none of the top runners were able to put in better laps, and Piastri remained on top, with Norris improving for second.

The session was concluded with practice starts.

How they finished

Piastri clocked a 1:15.529 to go fastest, three tenths clear of teammate Norris who was second fastest in the sister McLaren.

Ferrari pair Sainz and Leclerc were up next, third and fourth respectively separated by 0.020s only but both over half a second from Piastri.

Russell was fifth fastest, 0.566s away from the session-topping time and 0.271s ahead of Verstappen who was sixth in the Red Bull.

Alex Albon was seventh fastest in the Williams with Esteban Ocon eighth, Lance Stroll and Nico Hulkenberg were ninth the tenth respectively.

Emilia Romagna GP FP3 Classification