Max Verstappen set the fastest lap of FP3 in France with a late soft-tyred run, keeping Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc at bay by a comfortable margin.
Verstappen held top spot for much of the session thanks to his early medium-tyred benchmark of 1m 32.808s. While the Dutchman emerged a few minutes into FP3, Leclerc and Sainz came out after 15 minutes, Leclerc on hard tyres for eight laps (a Turn 12 spin cutting short his run) while Sainz emerged to lap on softs.
Neither could match or eclipse Verstappen until grip and temperatures ramped up at the very end of FP3, when Sainz went top with a time of 1m 32.626s. However, it was then that Verstappen opted to switch from mediums to softs, and returned to the top with a blistering effort of 1m 32.272s.
READ MORE: Sainz and Magnussen set to start French Grand Prix from the back of the grid after raft of power unit changes
The championship leader relegated Sainz – set to start Sunday’s race at the back of the grid due to power unit changes – to second (0.354s away), while Leclerc was 0.637s off in P3 – complaining that his tyres were dropping off after one flying effort.
Lewis Hamilton took P4 in FP3, the Mercedes driver-running a different rear wing to his team mate. Soft-tyred runs saw Hamilton finish 0.983s off Verstappen’s pace, Sergio Perez a whisker behind in fifth having executed the same medium-soft run plan as the reigning champion in the other Red Bull.
Red Bull Racing
Red Bull Racing
George Russell finished sixth, only eight-hundredths behind team mate Hamilton, while Alpine’s Fernando Alonso swapped from mediums to softs very late in the session to jump to seventh.
Behind Alonso was Williams’ Alex Albon, who was eighth in his recently-upgraded Williams – while team mate Nicholas Latifi took P12 in this session as he too enjoyed the new Williams updates.
READ MORE: ‘It’s not spectacular’ – Mercedes say they’re ‘further off the pace than we hoped’ after Friday in France
Between the Williams was McLaren’s Lando Norris in ninth, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda 10th and Daniel Ricciardo in P11.
Pierre Gasly managed 13th in this session for AlphaTauri ahead of the Alfa Romeos, Valtteri Bottas 14th and Zhou Guanyu 15th.
2022 French GP FP3: Leclerc flat spots front left tyre with spin in final practice
Kevin Magnussen will start at the back of the grid with Sainz for the Grand Prix having also taken new Ferrari engine components, and he finished 16th for Haas having ended the session with an 11-lap stint on medium tyres.
Esteban Ocon was next on the board in P17 for Alpine after a steady couple of stints on mediums and a late run on softs.
READ MORE: 5 things we learned from Friday practice at the French Grand Prix
Mick Schumacher was 19th, bookended by Aston Martins – Lance Stroll 18th and Sebastian Vettel 20th, with the four-time champion having missed the latter half of FP3 with floor damage.
With qualifying to come, Red Bull have shown a turn of pace and perhaps given Ferrari something to worry about in France. Join us at 1600 local time for live coverage.
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