Russell leads FP3 in Las Vegas ahead of Piastri and Sargeant

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After a Friday dominated by Ferrari in Las Vegas, it’s time for the last practise session of the weekend before Qualifying. Will the Italian Scuderia complete its clean sweep and have Charles Leclerc lead yet another session, or will someone else, probably championship winner Max Verstappen, snatch P1?

The first drivers out on track were the McLarens, shortly after followed by the Alfa Romeos and the Ferraris, whereas Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are yet to even enter his RB19.

Carlos Sainz had a very complicated FP1 as he hit a manhole during the ten minutes of track time, which did a lot of damage on his car, forcing him to take up many new components, including a new battery and thus a ten places grid penalty.

Today he ran wide on his early timed lap attempt, while Bottas is in the provisional lead with a 1:39.875s, improved by both Ferraris before the Finn driver shaved off his previous best a second an a half.

There is still a lot of track time on everyone’s hands, and Bottas’s best shot is still more than three seconds off the best lap signed yesterday by Leclerc.

The six drivers on track are joined fifteen minutes into the session by the returning McLarens, the Alpines and the Aston Martins.

Sainz cycles into the lead but his time is improved immediately by Leclerc in 1:36.508s. However, not everyone is pleased with the Monegasque driver. In fact, Kevin Magnussen had some choice words for him on the radio, after being impeded.

Twenty minutes into the session, Sainz on mediums bolts back in the lead as the first driver signing a time in the 1:35s today, followed by Leclerc, Ocon, Alonso and Gasly, with the Alpine’s among the half of the grid sporting soft tyres.

A brief yellow flag was issued as Magnussen ran wide at Turn 5, after the Haas driver had an on track battle for position with his earlier competitor Leclerc.

Championship winner Max Verstappen completed his first lap of the day a little over twenty minutes after the beginning of the session, with his early attempt on softs good enough for P3. The latest driver to join his colleagues is Albon, out immediately after.

Another yellow flag was seen for Bottas running wide on the straight before Turn 12, spinning the car around to rejoin the grid, with Daniel Ricciardo and Logan Sargeant having to use the runoffs as well while adapting to the layout.

At the half hour benchmark Verstappen leads from Perez and Albon in 1:34.653s. The Red Bull champion is the first driver to lap in Vegas under the 1:35s.

It seems to be a pretty impressive session for Williams, as Albon’s teammate Logan Sargeant is currently running in P6.

Many drivers returned to the pit to make some last minute setup changes, including both Ferraris.

In the last fifteen minutes of the session the Mercedes did their first faster lap attempt after practicing some longer runs, which sees George Russell slots in P3 and Lewis Hamilton in P7.

Photo credits: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team

With fifteen minutes to go, Alonso jumps up to P3 and Oscar Piastri’s lap is good enough for P5. The latest driver to sign a purple sector is Sargeant, who goes on to take P6 from Bottas and Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver had improved his lap time, but is still almost a second off his teammate’s pace.

The whole top ten is now on softs, as Russell bolts to the lead with a 1:34.585s.

Eleven minutes to go, Sargeant, who is definitely showing some speed in what could be considered an home race for him, moves up to P2 only 0.060s off the leading lap of the British driver, as Verstappen on a fast lap runs wide and has to abort the attempt.

Piastri jumps to P1 as yellow flags are out due to Albon running wide. In a separate accident a few minutes later, the Williams driver loses his left rear tyre on track due to coming into contact with the wall at Turn 5 after a puncture, issueing a red flag to recover his parked car.

With seven minutes to go on the clock, the session will not be resumed, and practise starts will not be allowed, not allowing Ferrari’s Leclerc to conclude the fast lap he was on, which would have been enough for the top spot with a personal best in Sector 1 and an overall best in Sector 2.

George Russell returns to lead a session with a 1:34.093s, ahead of Piastri and Sargeant, with championship winner Max Verstappen just off the podium in fourth and the best Ferrari in sixteenth as after an active first half both cars focused on set up trimming until the very last moment.