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Perez leads final Belgian GP practice

SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 27: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 27, 2022 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Sergio Perez has topped the final Free Practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix, with teammate Max Verstappen behind.

The final free practice of the weekend began under a cloudy, cold Spa-Francorchamps circuit, though no menace of rain was seen at the start of the session.

Alexander Albon’s Williams was the first car to dominate the time charts through the opening stages of the session with a time of 1:50,050, with Daniel Ricciardo behind. However, the Alfa Romeo cars were quick to overtake them, with Guanyu Zhou and Valtteri Bottas placing 1st and 2nd place by over 2.2 seconds to third placed-Albon.

On-track action remained calm for multiple minutes as the top teams didn’t push at the start while Ferrari wasn’t even running yet. This meant both Alfa Romeos were still at the top, now with the Aston Martin drivers behind them in third and fourth.

Carlos Sainz was the first driver to remove Guanyu Zhou from the top of the time charts half an hour after the session started. Charles Leclerc immediately followed, placing in P2. Alexander Albon, however, broke them in half by moving Leclerc to P3 after setting a time 0.429s faster than the Monegasque.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell placed 4th and 8th respectively half an hour into the session. The Red Bull cars were way behind, but because they hadn’t set flying laps until the start. However, the situation quickly changed as Sergio Perez removed Sainz from the first place.

Max Verstappen replaced Perez at the top of the charts after some failed attempts. The Dutch driver was almost half a second faster than the Mexican. Sergio then continued to drop down as Sainz and Norris set better lap times than him.

Charles Leclerc lost control of his car and went out of the track at turn 12, barely touching the barrier. The Monegasque seemed to suffer no major damage other than in the front wing and was able to go to the pits by himself. The session was red flagged with 8 minutes to go.

The practice was resumed with 4 minutes to go, as multiple drivers lined up down the pit lane. In the end, it was Perez who topped the session with Verstappen in second.

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