Sainz tops final Spanish GP practice

Qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix is too close to call after Carlos Sainz headed a gaggle of five drivers and four teams split by just 0.151s in Barcelona.

But the session was colored by two moments of road rage that will see Charles Leclerc and Lance Stroll face grid penalties for collisions with Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton respectively.

Sainz set the benchmark at 1m 13.013s in the final eight minutes of the session, pipping McLaren’s Lando Norris by just 0.03s.

Norris, however, could almost certainly have gone faster. The Briton set his fastest lap earlier in the session and on a set of soft tires that had already been used for aborted flying lap.


He also dipped a wheel into the stones exiting Turn 12, further compromising a lap that otherwise likely would have seen him secure top spot.

Leclerc completed the top three just 0.007s behind Norris, the Monegasque radioing his team that the car felt like “it’s a good step forward” after a tricky Friday.

Max Verstappen slotted into fourth and 0.074s off the pace, while George Russell completed a five-driver, four-team top five at 0.151s off the pace.

The super tight session was marred by two incidents of bizarre road rage, with Leclerc and Norris as well as Stroll and Hamilton all set to see the stewards after the session.

Leclerc and Norris came together exiting Turn 5. The McLaren driver, on a slow-down lap, pulled to the left of the road to allow the Ferrari to sweep past, but Leclerc, apparently incensed, cut across to make what looked like deliberate contact.

Norris suspected his car was damaged in the incident. It was oddly reminiscent of an incident between Stroll and Hamilton earlier in the hour.

Hamilton had been caught unawares by the fast-approaching Stroll entering Turn 5 and, upon spotting the Aston Martin car, pulled to the very edge of the track on the right-hand side.

Stroll, having already slowed to avoid contact, appeared to open his steering to tag the left of the Mercedes before accelerating away.

Hamilton continued the session, finishing sixth and 0.346s off the pace, almost all of which came from a snap of oversteer in the final sector.

Sergio Perez was well off the pace of the leading sextet, lapping 0.71s slower than Sainz to finish the session seventh ahead of Alex Albon and Fernando Alonso.

Oscar Piastri was separated from the lead group after running wide exiting Turn 12 on his fastest lap. The error cost him around 0.6s to Sainz; he finished 0.894s off the pace.

Alpine teammates Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly slid out of the top 10 to finish 11th and 12th ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen.

Daniel Ricciardo led the way for an RB team still looking for pace from its major upgrade, finishing 16th ahead of Stroll, Yuki Tsunoda, Zhou Guanyu and Logan Sargeant.

Story originally appeared on Racer