Esteban Ocon beat Sergio Perez to top sport in final practice at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
It was a typically straightforward Saturday practice session on a sprint weekend, with parc fermé conditions in effect after qualifying on Friday. The focus was on assessing the endurance of the soft tire ahead of the 24-lap sprint race later today.
Ocon started the hour with nine laps on the medium tire, but the yellow compound found little favor among the drivers, and he subsequently switched to a 16-lap run on the soft compound.
Track temperature is expected to be the limiting factor for the softs. The surface reading was a high 125 degrees F despite a mild 78-degree F ambient temperature. The risk of rain is significantly lower than it was when drizzle interrupted qualifying on Friday.
Sergio Perez, who will start the sprint out of position in ninth, was second in the order after completing 24 laps on the softs at 0.184s shy of Ocon’s leading time.
George Russell followed in third ahead of Fernando Alonso, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, completing the top six split by 0.533s.
Pierre Gasly headed the midfield runners, his best time more than a second off the pace, followed by Haas teammates Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen, the Dane set to start the sprint from pole.
Lando Norris completed the top 10 for McLaren ahead of Carlos Sainz in the fastest Ferrari.
Yuki Tsunoda was 12th, edging Charles Leclerc to the place by just 0.003s, with Daniel Ricciardo in 14th.
Valtteri Bottas put his Alfa Romeo 15th ahead of Nicholas Latifi and the Aston Martin teammates, with Lance Stroll ahead of Sebastian Vettel, the German completing the most laps of anyone in the session, with 44 tours.
Zhou Guanyu ended the hour 19th ahead of Williams junior driver Logan Sargeant. The American was commandeering Alex Albon’s car in his quest to boost his Super License points tally and ensure his full-time Williams debut next season.
He missed a chance to score a bonus point for 100 kilometers of running in Mexico City thank to some red-flag interruptions, but the Floridian had no such problems today, completing 28 laps, or more than 120 kilometers, on his way to a best time only 0.3s slower than Latifi in the sister car.