June 3, 2023

As Formula One began its final Sprint weekend of the season, Sergio Pérez of Red Bull Racing set the fastest lap speed in the lone practice session before qualifying for the 2022 FIA Formula One Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

In spite of this, FP1 at Interlagos was a race to the finish, as Pérez came out on top, edging out Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by only four thousandths of a second. Max Verstappen, the 2022 World Champion, was a further 0.008s behind in third position.

Pérez moved up to the first position early in the practice and recorded the fastest lap time of the competition with a time of 1:14.477 while on hard tyres. This time was achieved in the first five minutes of the session. However, Verstappen quickly improved upon that and recorded a time of 1:14.104. After that, Bottas of Alfa Romeo took the lead, but the Dutchman swiftly regained control of the situation by driving a lap in a time of 1:13.646, which he later improved to a time of 1:13.575 as the session approached the quarter-hour mark.

After that, the drivers went into a period of relative calm as they prepared for their qualifying simulations. After 25 minutes, Pérez was the first driver to complete a lap on soft tires, which propelled him back to the front of the order.

The Mexican driver ended in first place with a time of 1:11.853, and he was followed by Verstappen, who finished 0.008 seconds behind him with a time of 1:11.861 and complained that his car didn’t want to turn in.

Leclerc started the race on medium tires and eventually finished third, 0.5 seconds behind the leader. His Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz, who will take a five-place grid penalty on Sunday for using a sixth engine of the season in Brazil, moved ahead to take P3 but was almost three tenths off of Pérez’s time despite using the medium tyres. Sainz’s penalty will be for using the sixth engine of the season in Brazil. George Russell of Mercedes moved up to fourth place with his first run on the soft tires as the last quarter of the practice session was drawing near. The Briton, on the other hand, finished more over three tenths below Pérez’s pace.

Lewis Hamilton, teammate of Russell’s, attempted his first run on the soft tires while the other Red Bull drivers shifted to longer stints, but he was forced to abort it after sliding slightly wide on the exit of Turn 7 and then locking up into Turn 8. After that, Russell competed once more, and this time he came much closer to Pérez, finishing just 0.202 behind him. After that, he was overtaken by Hamilton, who got to within two tenths of the Mexican leader, sitting 0.187 behind from the top spot.

Sainz was the first to go for Ferrari with soft tires, which they switched to with five minutes remaining in the practice. The Spaniard’s time was only 0.001 seconds faster than Hamilton’s, but Leclerc’s time of 1:11.857 seemed to put him ahead of both of them.

As a result of the Ferrari driver’s run, Verstappen finished in third place, surpassing Sainz and the Mercedes drivers. After them, Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher took the lead, and Pierre Gasly and Valtteri Bottas completed out the top 10.

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