United States GP: Verstappen tops FP3 as Leclerc hits trouble

Max Verstappen topped final practice for Formula 1's United States Grand Prix, as Lando Norris posted a surprise third-best time for McLaren and Charles Leclerc stopped with a problem.

United States GP: Verstappen tops FP3 as Leclerc hits trouble

Red Bull driver Verstappen bested Sebastian Vettel by 0.218s in Saturday's FP3 session, but Vettel ended up the only Ferrari driver to set a laptime.

Twenty minutes into the session his teammate Leclerc seemed to lose power towards the end of the lap and pulled over on the run-off before the penultimate corner.

Ferrari revealed after the session that an oil leak had caused the stoppage and said it would revert to an older engine for the remainder of the weekend, thus avoiding a grid penalty.

Light smoke was emerging from the rear of his Ferrari as he came to a rest and continued to do so as the car was wheeled behind the barriers. The recovery of Leclerc's car, which was eventually returned to the Ferrari garage mid-way through the session, caused a brief virtual safety car period before the session resumed under green flag conditions.

Vettel and Verstappen duelled for the fastest time on the first runs before Valtteri Bottas kicked off the next new-tyre efforts and jumped to first with the first sub-1m34s lap, a 1m33.904s.

After having an earlier lap deleted for running too wide exiting the penultimate corner, Vettel found almost a second on new rubber and lapped almost four tenths quicker than Bottas.

Verstappen initially set a time within two tenths of Vettel's 1m33.523s, and locked up at Turn 1 as he tried to improve. However, Verstappen did eventually depose Vettel one final time, clocking a 1m33.305s.

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Neither Mercedes driver seriously threatened to top the session and as Bottas and Lewis Hamilton ended up more than half a second adrift, Norris stole an unexpected third.

The rookie was just 0.533s slower than Vettel as his 1m33.818s beat Bottas by eight-hundredths of a second and Hamilton by just over a tenth.

Alex Albon completed the top six in the second Red Bull, 0.678s slower than teammate Verstappen.

Carlos Sainz was twice as far from the benchmark in seventh as his teammate Norris, but shunned the soft tyre for most of the session.

He was 1.1s off the pace, but a tenth quicker than the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen in eighth.

Pierre Gasly's Toro Rosso and Daniel Ricciardo's Renault completed the top 10.

At the back of the field, without a representative time in 19th, Sergio Perez's Racing Point was fitted with a new engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K for final practice.

The engine changes and lack of qualifying simulation work were tactical decisions from the team as Perez will start from the pitlane because of a weighbridge infringement on Friday.

Perez will be hit with a grid penalty for the engine component changes but it will be an irrelevant formality for the Mexican, who now has the fresh components available to him for this weekend and rest of the season.

Cla Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen
Red Bull 13 01'33.305
2 Germany Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari 17 01'33.523 00.218
3 United Kingdom Lando Norris
McLaren 14 01'33.818 00.513
4 Finland Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes 17 01'33.904 00.599
5 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes 16 01'33.923 00.618
6 Thailand Alex Albon
Red Bull 14 01'33.983 00.678
7 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr.
McLaren 15 01'34.408 01.103
8 Finland Kimi Raikkonen
Alfa Romeo 18 01'34.513 01.208
9 France Pierre Gasly
Toro Rosso 14 01'34.517 01.212
10 Australia Daniel Ricciardo
Renault 11 01'34.774 01.469
11 Germany Nico Hulkenberg
Renault 11 01'34.784 01.479
12 Canada Lance Stroll
Racing Point 14 01'34.792 01.487
13 France Romain Grosjean
Haas 17 01'34.849 01.544
14 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat
Toro Rosso 16 01'35.129 01.824
15 Denmark Kevin Magnussen
Haas 14 01'35.305 02.000
16 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi
Alfa Romeo 15 01'35.956 02.651
17 United Kingdom George Russell
Williams 15 01'36.256 02.951
18 Poland Robert Kubica
Williams 17 01'36.628 03.323
19 Mexico Sergio Perez
Racing Point 22 01'38.426 05.121
20 Monaco Charles Leclerc
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Series Formula 1
Event United States GP
Sub-event FP3
Author Scott Mitchell
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