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Red Bull turn up the heat in Miami as Mercedes disappear

Red Bull turn up the heat in Miami as Mercedes disappear

F1 News

Red Bull turn up the heat in Miami as Mercedes disappear

Red Bull turn up the heat in Miami as Mercedes disappear

Sergio Perez led the way in final practice for Red Bull in scorching temperatures in Miami as Friday pacesetters Mercedes disappeared down the timesheet.

Perez topped the session with a lap of one minute 30.304secs around a circuit that sizzled in temperatures of 34 degrees Celsius, sending the track heat up to 53.

It is likely Perez would have been deposed in the closing stages as team-mate Max Verstappen set a purple first sector before enduring a half-spin in turn 14 at the heart of the track's tight, twisty section, with the Dutchman just keeping his car out of a wall.

Reigning F1 champion Verstappen had to settle for the third quickest time, 0.345s adrift of his team-mate, with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc separating the duo with a late quick lap to finish two-tenths of a second off the pace.

As for Mercedes, whose hopes of a recovery this weekend appeared evident after Friday when George Russell finished quickest with a time four-tenths-of-a-second faster than Perez on Saturday, the heat seemingly had a major impact.

Russell was a lowly 17th and team-mate Lewis Hamilton 15th, with the duo both just over 1.5s adrift of Perez.

The early initiative had been taken by Verstappen who endured what team principal Christian Horner had described as "a horrible" day on Friday.

In FP1, with only five laps to his name, the Dutchman glanced the wall at the exit of turn 16, leading to his team changing the gearbox as a precaution.

Work overflowed into the second session and after missing the first half of the hour, Verstappen suffered an issue on his first lap out of the garage that prevented him from turning left, later diagnosed as a hydraulic failure, followed swiftly by a brake fire.

Unsurprisingly, in a bid to make up for lost time, Verstappen was first on track and set the pace on the medium tyres with a lap of 1:31.355s.

It was not until 17 minutes remaining that Verstappen was finally deposed as the soft-tyre blasts that take place in FP3 occurred, with Leclerc going almost four-tenths of a second faster.

Once Verstappen switched to the softs, his first hot lap of the circuit saw him go top with a 1:30.649s - which ultimately proved to be his best given his late spin - edging out team-mate Perez by just 0.050s as the Mexican had gone quickest just seconds earlier, although the latter eventually had the final say.

Behind Verstappen, Alpine's Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest, albeit nearly three-quarters-of-a-second down, followed by fellow champion Sebastian Vettel in his Aston Martin and the Haas of Mick Schumacher in an unusual shake-up of the order.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen were the only other drivers within a second of Perez, while Williams' Alex Albon and Lando Norris in his McLaren completed the top 10, the latter 1.290s down.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon had earlier caused the fourth red flag across the three practice sessions as he became the latest victim of a biting circuit.

Winding his way through the twisty section in the middle sector, Ocon lost the rear of his car on entry into turn 13 which forced him into a spin through 180 degrees and a sideways slam into a barrier, leaving his team in a race against time to make repairs ahead of qualifying.

As the impact was over the G limit, Ocon was taken to the circuit medical centre as a precaution and given the all-clear after checks.

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