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Perez sets FP3 pace at Yas Marina


Ahead of today's sole practice session - which like FP1 is essentially redundant because it takes place in different conditions to qualifying and the race, but has all 20 drivers on duty and no reserves - the air temperature is 31 degrees C, while the track temperature is 46 degrees.

Verstappen set the pace yesterday afternoon, quickest on single lap pace and the race simulation, but the Mercedes pair were there or thereabouts and both drivers appear very confident. Ferrari appeared to struggle, while Perez, if he is to beat Leclerc to the runner-up spot, must close the gap to his Red Bull teammate.

Earlier this morning, Christian Horner confirmed Daniel Ricciardo's return to Red Bull though he has ruled out any hope of the Australian returning to the grid with the team. Meanwhile, Toto Wolff confirmed that Mercedes is seriously looking at Mick Schumacher for a reserve role.

The lights go green and Stroll leads the way, followed by his Aston Martin teammate who is contesting his 299th and final Grand Prix. Both are on mediums.

While Stroll pits, Vettel remains on track and is joined by the Ferrari pair.

Schumacher heads out on softs.

Sainz posts the first time of the day, crossing the line at 27.821.

As Schumacher begins his first flying lap, the Mercedes pair head out, both on the red-banded rubber.

Schumacher goes second with a 27.967, however Leclerc responds with a 27.314.

No sooner has Sainz posted a 26.931 than Russell responds with a 26.530 and Hamilton a 26.040.

"I had a big moment, well not a big moment, but quite a lot of bottoming into Turn 2," reports Leclerc.

Ricciardo is warned that it is windier than yesterday with a 15 km/h tailwind into Turn 6.

The Australian subsequently goes fifth (27.242), ahead of Schumacher.

After 16 minutes of running only seven drivers have posted times.

"I've got fire on the front left brake," warns Norris. "OK, we see it here," he is told.

Alonso goes third (26.292) and teammate Ocon fourth, while a 26.534 sees Perez go seventh.

As Latifi and the Alphas head out Verstappen remains the only no-show.

"Smoke, smoke coming out of the front left," warns Vettel.

Shades of Lady Bracknell as one would consider one smoking left front to be unfortunate... to have two...

Perez goes quickest with a 25.861 on the mediums, 0.179s quicker than Hamilton's time which was set on softs.

Gasly heads back to the pits slowly. "Something broke," he reports, the right-front wheel cover missing and the wheel appearing to be loose.

With 31:30 remaining Verstappen finally heads out.

At which point the session is red-flagged in order that debris can be removed from the track.

Replay shows that Gasly appeared to suffer an issue as he ran over the kerb, his team claiming that he suffered a puncture. However, other than the shattered wheel cover, it didn't appear to be your usual bog standard puncture.

The session soon resumes and Verstappen is first out, followed by Tsunoda, Hamilton and the Ferrari pair.

Replay has Norris reporting that Hamilton overtook a Haas under the red flag.

Indeed, the stewards have noted that Hamilton failed to slow under the red flag.

Verstappen's first flying lap sees the Dutchman go third (26.044) on the softs, Hamilton having retaken the top spot with a 25.824.

Verstappen posts PBs in all three sectors, going quickest with a 25.618 but Albon, Alonso and Russell are posting purples in various sectors. Russell goes quickest (25.395), Albon fifth (26.051) and Alonso sixth.

Quickest in the first two sectors, Perez stops the clock to go top (24.982). Norris goes fourth and Ricciardo sixth.

Verstappen - on fresh softs - goes quickest in S1 but loses pace in the second sector. At the line he posts a 25.134 to go second, 0.152s down on his Mexican teammate.

"We believe that would have been done for track limits in Turns 5 and 16," the Dutchman is warned. "Yeh, yeh!" he replies.

Though he posts a purple in the second sector, Perez fails to improve his overall time.

Leclerc complains of "loads of oscillations."

Both Ferraris are currently over 0.6s off the pace. That said, Sainz has yet to try the softs.

"It's not looking good," says Leclerc, "the grip is gone after four corners."

Sainz aborts his first flying lap, however, though he subsequently improves (25.605), he remains 0.623s off the pace.

The session ends. Perez is quickest, ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton, Russell, Norris, Leclerc, Sainz, Ricciardo, Vettel and Albon.

Ocon is eleventh, ahead of Alonso, Tsunoda, Bottas, Gasly, Stroll, Magnussen, Schumacher, Zhou and Latifi.

All of which sets us up nicely for qualifying and the race, what with Perez looking strong and the Mercedes clearly being more of a threat to Red Bull than Ferrari.

However, there remains that little matter of the red flag infringement.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Yas Marina here.


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