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COTA, FP3: Pérez heads final practice for US Grand Prix

Ahead of Sainz, Verstappen

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By Olivier Ferret

23 October 2021 - 21:09
COTA, FP3: Pérez heads final practice

Sergio Pérez topped the timesheet in final practice for the 2021 FIA Formula 1 United States Grand Prix as title contenders Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton had their fastest laps deleted at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

There was little action in the opening 10 minutes of the session, with only Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso heading out on track. It was Alonso who set leisurely early pace with a lap of 1:40.977 but when Hamilton emerged as the quarter hour mark arrived that marker was swiftly lowered by five seconds with the Mercedes drivers setting a time of 1:35.814 on soft tyres.

Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Pérez soon eclipsed that though and with 20 minutes gone the Mexican took P1 with a lap of 1:35.633. The Mexican’s time at the top wasn’t long, however, as within moments Valtteri Bottas edged past the Red Bull driver with a lap of 1:35.556.

However, the Finn’s time was quickly deleted for a track limits infringement at Turn 19 and it was left to Hamilton to reclaim P1 for Mercedes with a lap of 1:35.571.

Verstappen, though, was beginning his first flyer of the day and when the championship leader crossed the line he took top spot with over three tenths of a second in hand over Hamilton thanks to a lap of 1:35.207. Pérez then shuffled Hamilton to third with a time of 1:35.208 just 0.001 off team-mate Verstappen, but as the halfway mark passed the Dutch driver lowered the P1 benchmark again, setting a new target of 1:34.912.

Bottas then emerged on a new set of softs and he split the Red Bulls with a lap of 1:34.988 before Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz’s qualifying sim vaulted him to the top of the order with a lap of 1:34.805.

Pérez then bolted on new softs and he edged the Ferrari driver out of P1 with a lap of 1:34.701. Verstappen was the next of the frontrunners across the line and he took top spot, a little over three tenths of a second clear of his team-mate. However, the Dutch driver had edged over the white lines at Turn 19 and his time was deleted for going beyond the track limits.

Hamilton then made his claim for P1 but his lap of 1:34.458 was also deleted, this time for exceeding the track limits in Turn 9. He wouldn’t make another attempt and ended the session in sixth place.

Pérez, then topped his second session in a row, with Sainz second and Verstappen third. McLaren’s Lando Norris ended the hour in fourth place with Bottas fifth ahead of team-mate Hamilton. Daniel Ricciardo was seventh in the second McLaren ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly while Charles Leclerc was ninth for Ferrari ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.

Pos.DriverCarTimeLaps
01 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:34.701 13
02 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF21 1:34.805 16
03 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:34.912 13
04 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:34.945 13
05 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W12 1:34.988 15
06 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12 1:35.219 16
07 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:35.345 11
08 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:35.398 17
09 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF21 1:35.688 17
10 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A521 1:35.711 10
11 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:35.851 18
12 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:36.023 9
13 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:36.062 20
14 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:36.118 8
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:36.252 16
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:36.392 13
17 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A521 1:36.490 12
18 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:36.572 16
19 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:36.671 15
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari VF-21 2:03.456 15

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