George Russell led the way in the final hour of practice at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, with the Mercedes driver topping the timesheets in a session that was red-flagged in the closing minutes, preventing some from completing their laps.
After an abbreviated FP1 round followed by an extended second practice session on the opening day of racing, the drivers returned to the Las Vegas Strip on Friday night for another opportunity to familiarize themselves with the new 6,201-kilometre course.
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The early laps saw the use of a range of tire compounds, along with occasional excursions; Zhou Guanyu was among those to suffer a lock-up, with the front lock-up proving to be an issue for some on the track, while Kevin Magnussen was involved in some live action with Charles Leclerc after a brief Haas off-track departure.
Some appeared to struggle in the low grip conditions, but as the clock reached the halfway point, Leclerc appeared to be continuing his pace-setting form from Thursday by exchanging fast laps with teammate Carlos Sainz.
Red Bull Racing
Red Bull Racing
It wasn’t long before Red Bull showed their hand as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez took over at the top. Verstappen was quickest with a time of 1 minute 34.653 seconds, still using his original set of hard tires.
As the session continued and the track continued to develop, the field pushed towards the soft tire as they turned their focus to the single-lap pace. Some occasional off-track moments started creeping in. Even the world champion was not immune, after he ran into Turn 12 during a flying lap.
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There was drama for Alex Albon when his Williams crashed into the barriers in the final minutes of FP3, losing a tire in the process and raising red flags. Then it was confirmed that the session would not resume.
This meant that Russell remained at the top of the standings with a time of 1 minute 34.093 seconds, three tenths ahead of Oscar Piastri in second, while Logan Sargent – who had earlier avoided cutting through the wall himself – was third.
Verstappen and Perez remained fourth and fifth respectively after a quiet day with Red Bull on Thursday, while Albon finished sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso in seventh and Lewis Hamilton in eighth. Valtteri Bottas and Magnussen rounded out the top ten.
Lando Norris was 11th ahead of Nico Hulkenberg – as he was running Different car specifications For his teammate – in 12th place, followed by Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon and Cho in 13th, 14th and 15th.
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Leclerc and Sainz lost out at red flags, as they were unable to complete their flying lap on the soft tire. They finished the session at P16 and P17, respectively.
It was a quiet day for AlphaTauri. Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo sat in 18th and 20th, with Pierre Gasly’s Alps between them.
With all practice sessions completed for the weekend, teams and drivers will now have a final opportunity to debrief and finalize their setup before qualifying later, which will take place at midnight local time.
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