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Practice report
Formula 1 Spanish GP

F1 Spanish GP: Sainz fastest from Norris in tight final practice

Home hero Sainz eclipsed former team-mate Norris by a small margin in Formula 1 practice at Barcelona; top four all within a tenth of a second

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Carlos Sainz closed out Formula 1 free practice at the Spanish Grand Prix with the best time in FP3, ahead of Lando Norris by 0.03 seconds.

Sainz managed to beat Norris' soft-tyre benchmark in the final flurry of qualifying simulations, doing what the Mercedes duo and Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc could not.

A slow start to the session ensured that Lewis Hamilton had the circuit to himself in the opening five minutes, which he used to set the soft-tyre benchmark with a 1m14.178s - almost a second shy of his FP2 headliner.

He brought this down to a 1m13.865s shortly after Max Verstappen had set a 1m14.237s on mediums, but had to cede the advantage when George Russell punched in a 1m13.431s time to go fastest.

The two Mercedes were split by the Ferrari drivers; Sainz went up to second, just a tenth shy of Russell's lap, and Leclerc was a mere three-hundredths away from his team-mate after missing the bulk of FP2.

Norris then elbowed his way between Russell and the Ferraris on a lap on mediums, 0.001s clear of Sainz's previous lap. McLaren's preparation ahead of FP3 was almost derailed by a fire in its motorhome, but both drivers were able to take to the circuit with minimal loss in track time.

This early order shuffling ended with a series of longer runs, ahead of a late-session tombola instigated by the final flying runs in preparation for qualifying.

Both McLaren drivers backed out of their initial flyers, Norris aborting his lap through Turn 7 and Piastri doing so before Turn 3, but Norris went again to claim a 1m13.043s on his next attempt.

The Mercedes drivers found improvement and Hamilton clinched a purple middle sector, but a few snaps of oversteer cost him three tenths at the end of the lap. Russell, for his part, put in a time that was just 0.121s shy of Norris' effort.

Sainz overturned Norris' time, however, and punched in a 1m13.013s to put his Ferrari top. This looked set to be eclipsed by Charles Leclerc, but a slight wide moment at Turn 11 took some of the sting out of his lap and put him third - a mere 0.037s shy of Sainz's time.

Norris preserved second as there were no further improvements, although had a contretemps with Leclerc at the end of the session as the Monegasque cut across a slow Norris into Turn 6 and the two made contact.

Verstappen and Russell were fourth and fifth fastest, while sixth-placed Hamilton had his own contact at the end of the first sector with Lance Stroll; Hamilton seemed to impede Stroll slightly and attempted to back out at Turn 5 to let the Aston through, but Stroll appeared to wash out mid-corner and took a swipe at the Mercedes driver.

Sergio Perez, who carries a grid penalty into qualifying, was seventh fastest; just 0.03s ahead of Williams' Alex Albon. Fernando Alonso and Piastri completed the top 10.

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4
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2
Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 19

1'13.013

229.619
2 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes 14

+0.030

1'13.043

0.030 229.525
3 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari 18

+0.037

1'13.050

0.007 229.503
4 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 24

+0.074

1'13.087

0.037 229.386
5 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes 20

+0.151

1'13.164

0.077 229.145
6 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 26

+0.346

1'13.359

0.195 228.536
7 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 19

+0.710

1'13.723

0.364 227.408
8 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 Williams Mercedes 14

+0.740

1'13.753

0.030 227.315
9 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes 21

+0.773

1'13.786

0.033 227.213
10 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 14

+0.894

1'13.907

0.121 226.841
11 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 Alpine Renault 18

+0.937

1'13.950

0.043 226.709
12 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 Alpine Renault 14

+0.951

1'13.964

0.014 226.667
13 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 Haas Ferrari 20

+0.962

1'13.975

0.011 226.633
14 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 Sauber Ferrari 19

+1.011

1'14.024

0.049 226.483
15 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 Haas Ferrari 27

+1.061

1'14.074

0.050 226.330
16 Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 RB Red Bull 17

+1.148

1'14.161

0.087 226.064
17 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 Aston Martin Mercedes 16

+1.241

1'14.254

0.093 225.781
18 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 RB Red Bull 22

+1.407

1'14.420

0.166 225.278
19 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 Sauber Ferrari 17

+1.559

1'14.572

0.152 224.818
20 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 Williams Mercedes 12

+1.716

1'14.729

0.157 224.346

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