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Mercedes continue to threaten as Leclerc completes practice clean sweep

Mercedes continue to threaten as Leclerc completes practice clean sweep

F1 News

Mercedes continue to threaten as Leclerc completes practice clean sweep

Mercedes continue to threaten as Leclerc completes practice clean sweep

Charles Leclerc completed a practice clean sweep for the Spanish Grand Prix to tee himself up for what could be a vital pole position at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

Of the previous 31 grands prix at the circuit, 23 winners have come from pole, and 28 from the front row, underlining the crucial nature of qualifying for this venue.

Leclerc heads into the session a clear favourite for top spot on the grid as the current F1 championship leader again led the way at the end of the final hour of practice.

The Monégasque set a time of one minute 19.772secs, a tenth of a second slower than his best time from Friday but enough to still finish in front.

Leclerc's Scuderia team-mate Carlos Sainz, running with a new chassis following an overnight change due a fuel system issue, could only manage the fifth-best time, 0.357s adrift.

In between the Ferrari duo, reigning champion Max Verstappen managed to finish 0.072s behind Leclerc, while Mercedes pair George Russell and Lewis Hamilton proved their Friday times were no flash in the pan.

As with many teams, the W13 has a new floor and that has played a major factor in stopping the violent porpoising that Hamilton and Russell had suffered over the first five races.

Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott remarked before practice the body language of his two drivers was now very different, and they were in a happier place.

As on Friday, Russell again had the edge on the seven-time champion as he was 0.148s behind Leclerc, with Hamilton a further 0.082s down.

Behind fifth-placed Sainz was Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez, almost half-a-second off the pace, with then a gap to the best of the rest in McLaren's Lando Norris.

Like Sainz, Norris was also running with a new chassis on his MCL36 after damaging the original in FP2 after running over a kerb.

Norris was just over six-tenths of a second down, with the Briton followed by Haas' Kevin Magnussen, Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon in his Alpine, the latter duo both just over a second adrift.

For Magnussen's team-mate Mick Schumacher, the German driver's session lasted just 13 minutes due to his Haas suffering a right-rear brake fire, making him a doubt for qualifying.

The fire started midway through his fourth lap on the track, taking hold as he made his way into the pits where he knocked over the front jackman as he tried to pull to one side of his pit box so the flames could be extinguished safely.

Schumacher finished 19th on the timesheet, 5.695s adrift, with only AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly below him as the Frenchman suffered an even worse fate.

After an initial installation lap, Gasly was quickly forced to return to the pits with smoke emerging from the back of the car, an issue his team was unable to correct before the end of the hour-long run.

Spanish Grand Prix final practice results

1. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] 1:19.772s

2. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] +0.072s

3. George Russell [Mercedes] +0.148s

4. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] +0.230s

5. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] +0.357s

6. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] +0.488s

7. Lando Norris [McLaren] +0.631s

8. Kevin Magnussen [Haas] +0.874s

9. Valtteri Bottas [Alfa Romeo] +1.009s

10. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] +1.110s

11. Daniel Ricciardo [McLaren] +1.138s

12. Sebastian Vettel [Aston Martin] +1.172s

13. Fernando Alonso [Alpine] +1.209s

14. Zhou Guanyu [Alfa Romeo] +1.429s

15. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] +1.677s

16. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] +1.748s

17. Alexander Albon [Williams] +1.800s

18. Nicholas Latifi [Williams] +2.647s

19. Mick Schumacher [Haas] +5.695s

20. Pierre Gasly [AlphaTauri] no time

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