F1 – Sainz sets the pace in final practice for home race in Spain as top four are separated by less than 0.1s


Home hero Carlos Sainz took top spot in a tight final practice session for the 2024 FIA Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix in which the top four drivers covered by less than a tenth of a second. Ferrari driver Sainz finished just 0.030s ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris with Charles Leclerc third ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. 

The final hour of practice got off to a slow start with Lewis Hamilton the only driver to put a time on the board in the opening minutes. The Mercedes driver set a time of 1:14.178 on Soft tyres. 

As the seven-time champion returned to the pits, Verstappen crossed the line to start his first flying lap of the session but it only netted the Dutchman second behind the Mercedes man. George Russell, in the other Mercedes, then moved ahead of both with a Soft-tyre time of 1:13.431. 

The Mercedes drivers were then split by the Ferrari pairing of Sainz and Leclerc. Local hero Sainz took second, a tenth off Russell's lap, while Leclerc crossed the line just three-hundredths off his Ferrari team-mate. Norris then emerged and the McLaren driver’s first lap put him second, 0.104s off Russell's time. 

After a series of longer runs in the middle third of the session, the field eventually began to bolt on new Softs for qualifying simulations. 

Norris backed out of his first lap after encountering traffic midway through but after pitting briefly he returned to the fray and after a good first sector the McLaren driver went purple in Sector 2 and when he crossed the line his 1:13.043 jumped him up to P1. 

Soon after an incident between Lance Stroll saw the Mercedes man seem to impede the Aston Martin driver. Hamilton then appeared to back out of Turn 5 to let Stroll through but the Canadian seemed surprised and slid into the side of the Mercedes, leaving stewards to announce that they would investigate the clash after the session. 

Russell then put in his qualifying simulation, ending up 0.121s behind Norris but both Ferrari drivers were embarking on their flyers and Sainz duly went fastest with a lap of 1:13.013, 0.030s faster than Norris. Leclerc slotted into third just seven thousandths of a second further back. 

Verstappen set three green sectors on his quali run but the sum of the parts was only good enough to put him fourth on the time 0.037s off Leclerc and 0.074 behind Sainz. 

Russel was left with fifth place 0.151s off Sainz, with Hamilton two tenths further back. Pérez ended the session in seventh place ahead of Williams’ Alex Albon, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and the second McLaren of Oscar Piastri. 

2024 FIA Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1  Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:13.013  19 229.619
2  Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:13.043 0.030 14 229.525
3  Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:13.050 0.037 18 229.503
4  Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda RBPT 1:13.087 0.074 24 229.386
5  George Russell Mercedes 1:13.164 0.151 20 229.145
6  Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:13.359 0.346 26 228.536
7  Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda RBPT 1:13.723 0.710 19 227.408
8  Alexander Albon Williams/Mercedes 1:13.753 0.740 14 227.315
9  Fernando Alonso Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:13.786 0.773 21 227.213
10  Oscar Piastri McLaren/Mercedes 1:13.907 0.894 14 226.841
11  Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:13.950 0.937 18 226.709
12  Pierre Gasly Alpine/Renault 1:13.964 0.951 14 226.667
13  Nico Hülkenberg Haas/Ferrari 1:13.975 0.962 20 226.633
14  Valtteri Bottas Sauber/Ferrari 1:14.024 1.011 19 226.483
15  Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:14.074 1.061 27 226.330
16  Daniel Ricciardo RB/Honda RBPT 1:14.161 1.148 17 226.064
17  Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:14.254 1.241 16 225.781
18  Yuki Tsunoda RB/Honda RBPT 1:14.420 1.407 22 225.278
19  Zhou Guanyu Sauber/Ferrari 1:14.572 1.559 17 224.818
20  Logan Sargeant Williams/Mercedes 1:14.729 1.716 12 224.346