Fernando Alonso has topped a warm final practice at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix while a stewards investigations into Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen remains unresolved just hours before the sprint.
Alonso was 0.864s quicker than the under-investigation Verstappen at the top of the order, but his best lap of 1m11.238s was substantially off the pace of either session on Friday. FP2 during sprint weekends is run under parc ferme conditions, confining its usefulness to long runs rather than ultimate pace or set-up changes.
Verstappen was summoned to the stewards in the hours before before final practice began for touching Lewis Hamilton’s rear wing after qualifying, an apparent breach of the FIA international sporting code, but no decision had been made before the end of practice.
Hamilton, who was fifth and 1.5s off the pace, is also still under investigation for running with a non-compliant DRS during qualifying. Since his Friday rear wing remains impounded with the FIA, his team was given permission to use a new part to enter the final practice session.
Race control will publish the grid for the sprint two and a half hours after the end of final practice.
Notwithstanding the ongoing investigation, the warmer weather, sending track temperatures rocketing to 125 degrees F, gave teams plenty of work to do to understand the tires ahead of the no-stop sprint race. The heat went some way to curing the understeer afflicting Red Bull Racing, while Mercedes appeared to fall back towards the pack relative to its imposing qualifying pace.
Between the bailed-up title rivals slotted Valtteri Bottas into third and Esteban Ocon into fourth, the two 1.1s off the pace.
Sergio Perez was sixth in the second Red Bull Racing car ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi.
Carlos Sainz again led teammate Charles Leclerc to place Ferrari eighth and ninth, with Kimi Raikkonen completing the top 10.
Lance Stroll was 11th and 2.1s off the pace, one and two tenths ahead of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris respectively.
Pierre Gasly was unusually uncompetitive 14th, having run fifth in Friday practice and qualifying. The Frenchman radioed his team while on track suspecting his AlphaTauri had a problem, describing it as “undriveable”.
George Russell was 15th after a disappointing qualifying session for Williams, with Yuki Tsunoda 16th for AlphaTauri.
Sebastian Vettel set a session-high 42 laps, almost twice the distance of the sprint later this afternoon, on his way to 17th ahead of Nicholas Latifi.
Mick Schumacher headed Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin at the back of the field.