Lewis Hamilton topped the final practice at the Italian Grand Prix ahead of Saturday’s Sprint, but Carlos Sainz will be lucky to take part in the short race after a high-speed crash.
Sainz lost control of the rear of his Ferrari powering over the left-hand curb entering the Ascari chicane, punching his car into the barrier at speed. The front of his car was wiped off in the collision, and the Spaniard came to rest spun backwards shortly down the road.
“That hurt a bit, but I’m OK,” a winded Sainz radioed back to his pit wall as the session was suspended to clear the wreckage. He was cleared of injury by the medical center, though he will be examined a second time half an hour after the session.
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It’s the second week in a row Sainz has had a serious crash in Saturday morning practice after only just having his SF21 fixed in time to take part in qualifying for last weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix.
Ferrari mechanics will have a little over three hours to undertake repairs if Sainz is to take seventh place on the grid of the 18-lap sprint.
Practice resumed after a 12-minute suspension with 20 minutes till on the clock, after which Mercedes resumed control of the session from the previously ascendent Red Bull Racing, with Hamilton taking a 0.2s advantage over sprint poleman Valtteri Bottas in the final order.
Max Verstappen was relegated to third, the Dutchman 0.4s off the pace after a late flyer on the medium compound, with Sergio Perez another two tenths adrift.
With parc ferme conditions enforced after qualifying on Friday night, teams were limited in the changes that could be made, leading to a disjointed hour of running on mostly used tires, generating an unrepresentative pecking order.
Esteban Ocon ended up at the head of the midfield around a second off the benchmark, but he was followed by Alfa Romeo teammates Robert Kubica and Antonio Giovinazzi in unlikely lofty positions. Fernando Alonso was eighth in the second Alpine car.
Pierre Gasly was ninth ahead of Lando Norris to complete the top 10. Charles Leclerc ended the hour 11th and in his garage after a mysterious radio message to his pit wall advising that he was cutting his run short for reasons he couldn’t say publicly.
Daniel Ricciardo was 12th ahead of Williams duo Nicholas Latifi and George Russell, with Yuki Tsunoda 15th.
Nikita Mazepin was 16th for Haas ahead of Aston Martin drivers Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel, while Mick Schumacher and the crashed Sainz sat at the foot of the time sheet.