Monaco race winner Sergio Perez outpaced Ferrari's Charles Leclerc to top the final practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with championship leader Max Verstappen finishing the session third fastest.
FP3 was delayed by 15 minutes while barrier repair works were carried out at Turn 1 following a crash in an earlier F2 race.
When the session got going, the majority of the field rolled out of the garage on Pirelli’s red-walled soft compound. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc led the field initially, but Max Verstappen snatched the lead away when he joined the track after spending the first twenty minutes of the session in the Red Bull garage.
In preparation for the qualifying session, the entire field opted for the soft rubber for the second run. The Red Bull looked quick once again, setting the pace not only in the last sector, but showing great speed through the slower sections of the first half of the lap as well.
In the end, it was Sergio Perez who set the benchmark of the session, posting a time of 1m43.170s with Leclerc 70 thousands of a second adrift of the Mexican. Verstappen ended up only third fastest, albeit his last flying lap that could have seen him fly to the top of the leaderboard was hindered by heavy traffic in the middle sector. Carlos Sainz took 4th as he appeared to lack pace to his three direct rivals.
McLaren impressed in the final practice with its improved pace. Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo finished fifth and sixth fastest, albeit the gap to Perez’s benchmark was over 1.2s.
There was nothing to choose between the drivers of the midfield. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly headed the best of the rest behind the McLaren duo, but he was closely followed by the Mercedes, Alpine Aston Martin drivers.
Despite his strong showing on Friday, Fernando Alonso struggled for pace in the final practice, finishing only in 11, almost two tenths of a second behind his team mate Esteban Ocon.
His former team mate Lewis Hamilton also had a difficult time in the ultimate 60-minute practice with the Briton ending up 12th fastest directly behind Alonso. However, there is more to come from the seven-time world champion as his race engineer Peter Bonnington confirmed over the radio that Hamilton was using a lower engine mode to spare the power unit.
Just as yesterday, Haas and Alfa Romeo appeared to be off the pace in Baku with Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen, Mick Schumacher and Valtteri Bottas finishing the session in P14, P15, P18 and P19. Williams driver Alexander Albon took 17th with his team mate Nicholas Latifi rounding out the leaderboard.
|1||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:43.170||18|
|3||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:43.449||+0.279s||14|
|5||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:44.418||+1.248s||13|
|6||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:44.476||+1.306s||19|
|7||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:44.491||+1.321s||21|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:44.685||+1.515s||15|
|10||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:44.689||+1.519s||18|
|11||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:44.842||+1.672s||14|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:44.879||+1.709s||17|
|14||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:44.913||+1.743s||18|
|15||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:44.919||+1.749s||17|
|16||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:44.964||+1.794s||20|
|17||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:45.479||+2.309s||17|
|18||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:45.532||+2.362s||19|
|19||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:45.574||+2.404s||17|
|20||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:46.070||+2.900s||17|