FIA Formula One World Drivers’ Championship leader Max Verstappen set the pace in the final hour of practice for the French Grand Prix, beating Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz by more than three tenths of a second. Third place in the session went to Charles Leclerc who finished over six tenths of a second off the pace in the other Ferrari.
After a tricky Friday, after which he admitted to being uncomfortable with his car, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was one of the first out on track at the start of FP3 and the Mexican posted an early time of 1:33.628 on medium Pirelli tyres to get things going. The Mexican driver’s team-mate Verstappen also joined the action early on and immediately went quickest with a lap of 1:32.837 on mediums. He then improved to 1:32.808s as Pérez also found more time to briefly shore up P2 before Sainz arrived to split the Red Bulls with a lap of 1:33.217.
With both Ferrari drivers forced to abandon laps due to spins and moments of lost control Verstappen’s early benchmark remained unchallenged until after the halfway point.
Sainz then moved to P2 with a lap of 1:33.172 but was quickly bounced out of the place by Leclerc who posted a lap of 1:32.909 to sit just a tenth of a lap off Verstappen medium-tyre best.
On soft tyres. Sainz finally found the measure of Verstappen and jumped to P1 in the final 10 minutes of the session with a time of 1:32.626 lap. Verstappen, though, had also emerged on soft tyres and he powered past Sainz’s best effort with a lap of 1:32.272 that would keep him in top spot until the flag.
Sainz, who will start at the back of the grid due to power unit penalties, and Leclerc finished the session in second and third places respectively and the Ferrari pair were followed by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton who took fourth place with a lap 1:33.255. The seven-time champion was the last man within a second of Verstappen’s time.
Pérez again looked ill at ease in his RB18 and he finished the session in fifth place, 1.021s off his team-mate. Sixth place went to George Russell in the other Mercedes, while Fernando Alonso boosted home team Alpine’s chances of a good weekend with seventh place ahead of the Williams of Alexander Albon. McLaren’s Lando Norris was ninth and the final top-10 place went to AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda. Further back Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, who will also start from the back of the grid due to PU penalties, finished in 16th place.
2022 FIA Formula 1 French Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:32.272 23 227.926
2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:32.626 0.354 14 227.055
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:32.909 0.637 20 226.363
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.255 0.983 22 225.523
5 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Racing 1:33.293 1.021 25 225.431
6 George Russell Mercedes 1:33.376 1.104 18 225.231
7 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:33.505 1.233 18 224.920
8 Alexander Albon Williams 1:33.558 1.286 19 224.793
9 Lando Norris McLaren 1:33.669 1.397 16 224.526
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:33.751 1.479 19 224.330
11 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:33.788 1.516 17 224.241
12 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:33.841 1.569 16 224.115
13 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:33.869 1.597 18 224.048
14 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:33.872 1.600 20 224.041
15 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:33.911 1.639 19 223.948
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:34.031 1.759 23 223.662
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:34.122 1.850 18 223.446
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:34.177 1.905 20 223.315
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:34.222 1.950 12 223.209
20 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:34.536 2.264 11 222.467