Mexico, FP3: Pérez fastest in final practice for home race
Ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton
Home hero Sergio Pérez set the fastest lap of final practice for the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship Mexico City Grand, beating Red Bull Racing team-mate Max Verstappen by two tenths of a second as Mercedes Lewis Hamilton finished third, six tenths of a second off the Mexican driver.
The session got underway with the field biding their time in the pit lane. AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda broke the silence after five minutes and the Japanese driver soon posted the opening time of the day at 1:20.922 on soft tyres. Over the next nine laps he worked his way down to 1:19.744 before being pushed out of P1 by Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen who in turn was edged out McLaren’s Lando Norris who established new benchmark of 1:19.244 as the session passed the 20-minute mark.
It was then that Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton made his entrance and the Mercedes driver swiftly rose to the top of the order with a lap of 1:18.770. His stay was brief. However, as team-mate Valtteri Bottas soon crossed the line in 1:18.661 to take P1.
Just before the half hour mark, Sergio Pérez emerged to a huge roar from his home fans and the Red Bull driver rewarded them with the fastest time of the session, a 1:18.625 set on soft tyres.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc jumped to P1 with a lap of 1:18.213 but Pérez restored Red Bull pre-eminence as he improved to 1:17934.
Verstappen then made his late entrance and the championship leader powered past his team-mate’s best effort, knocking almost four tenths of a second off Pérez’s time to take top spot with a lap of 1:17.537. He then went for another flying lap and lowered the marker to 1:17.217 as the field retired to the pit lane to prepare for their qualifying simulations.
Hamilton and Bottas were among the first back on track and though Bottas failed to improve on his first run, Hamilton jumped to third place with a lap of 1:17.903.
Pérez then returned to the fray and though the Mexican logged personal best times in all three sector he couldn’t eclipse his team-mate’s earlier time and settled into P2 with a lap of 1:17.272, just 0.055s off Verstappen.
The Mexican wasn’t done, however, and after returning to the pit lane he went for a second run. And after setting purple times in the final two sectors he took top spot with a lap of 1:17.024.
Verstappen emerged for his qualifying sim but the Dutch driver couldn’t find an improvement and complained to his pit wall that his lap was “weird, no grip at all”.
It left Pérez top, almost two tenths ahead of his team-mate.
Hamilton improved to 1:17.675 to leapfrog Bottas and take P3 but the Briton was still over six tenths of a second off the pace of Pérez.
With Bottas fourth, fifth place in the session went to Sainz, with Tsunoda sixth ahead of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly. Ninth place went to Leclerc and Norris ended the session in tenth place.
Elsewhere there was bad news for Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, with his team confirming that the Frenchman would be taking a new power unit and he will thus drop to the back of the grid for tomorrow’s race.
|01||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull Honda RB16B||1:17.024||15|
|02||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda RB16B||1:17.217||12|
|03||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W12||1:17.675||14|
|04||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes W12||1:17.708||17|
|05||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari SF21||1:18.029||20|
|06||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Honda AT02||1:18.037||25|
|07||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren Mercedes MCL35M||1:18.121||15|
|08||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda AT02||1:18.202||18|
|09||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari SF21||1:18.213||20|
|10||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes MCL35M||1:18.312||16|
|11||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21||1:18.352||20|
|12||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41||1:18.531||22|
|13||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41||1:18.556||19|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21||1:18.614||17|
|15||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault A521||1:18.847||15|
|16||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault A521||1:18.999||17|
|17||George Russell||Williams Mercedes FW43B||1:19.211||19|
|18||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari VF-21||1:19.238||14|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes FW43B||1:19.313||12|
|20||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari VF-21||1:20.479||15|