Perez tops FP3 as Leclerc crashes

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Perez tops FP3 as Leclerc crashes

Formula 1

Perez tops FP3 as Leclerc crashes

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Sergio Perez set the fastest time of final practice for the Belgian Grand Prix as Charles Leclerc suffered a high-speed spin.

Late in the session, Leclerc was on a flying lap and got wide at the Fagnes chicane, spinning into the gravel and hitting the tire barrier on the outside of the track. The impact only damaged the right hand side of Leclerc’s front wing, but the red flag was thrown before he managed to recover from the gravel and return to the pits under his own power.

That incident meant a session restart with just four minutes to go, and it was Perez who ended up edging out team-mate Max Verstappen by 0.137s at the top, setting a 1m45.047s. Perez has a good chance this weekend due to power unit penalties, with Verstappen – along with Leclerc – set to start at the back of the grid.

Carlos Sainz is also well-placed after setting the third fastest time, although he was over three quarters of a second off Perez after completing just 13 laps. Lando Norris was fourth and the only other driver to get within a second of Perez, but similarly has a back of the grid power unit penalty and so will be out of the running in qualifying.

Fernando Alonso was sixth ahead of George Russell, with Mercedes having an underwhelming session as Lewis Hamilton ended up 12th, the team-mates running different rear wing configurations during the final hour of running before qualifying. Between the two Mercedes drivers were Leclerc in seventh ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Esteban Ocon – another with a grid penalty – Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo.

A new name was added to the list of power unit penalties as Guanyu Zhou took a fresh engine and will also start from the back of the grid, but Zhou was still able to finish the final session ahead of Mick Schumacher who saw his running hampered by a sensor issue.

Schumacher had completed just six laps on high fuel when he returned to the pits for checks and the issue couldn’t be resolved before the end of the session despite Leclerc’s off and the red flag period.

Schumacher and Valtteri Bottas are the other two drivers along with Verstappen, Leclerc, Norris, Ocon and Zhou to have a power unit penalty, meaning the seven will all still take an active part in qualifying to as the quickest of the bunch will start as high as 14th.

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