Charles Leclerc set the pace for Ferrari in Saudi Arabian GP final practice as Formula 1 drivers returned to the track following a dramatic Friday.
F1 is still racing in Jeddah this weekend despite a missile attack on a nearby oil depot on Friday afternoon in the city, with the grid of 20 drivers agreeing to take part following crisis talks in the paddock late into the night.
They hit the high-speed street circuit on Saturday for third and final practice and it was Leclerc who made it a hat-trick of fastest practice times by knocking Max Verstappen off top spot on his final lap.
Leclerc’s 1:29.739 was just 0.033s quicker than the world champion.
It is the Red Bull driver, however, who appears the man to beat heading into this evening’s qualifying session after backing out of a lap that could have been half a second quicker.
Sergio Perez was just behind in third, with Carlos Sainz in fourth as Red Bull and Ferrari dominated.
Mercedes were nowhere to be seen from the leading positions in final practice.
The world champions, off the back of what appeared a more positive second practice last night, were testing out another rear wing but it did not translate into quick times, with Lewis Hamilton their lead car way down in 11th.
Simon Lazenby says that after a confusing and disturbing day on Friday, the drivers are now unanimous in their decision to carry on with the Saudi Arabian GP.
Hamilton was a second off the pace, while George Russell was two tenths and three places worse off in 14th.
Revelling in their absence at the front, Valtteri Bottas was fifth in the Alfa Romeo, ahead of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly.
The AlphaTauri drivers’ session, however, was blighted by a driveshaft issue, with Gasly having to push his car back into the pits after stopping at the exit.
Kevin Magnussen returned to the track to place eighth for Haas after an unreliable Friday, while McLaren still could not find pace.
Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris were 16th and 19th for a team who certainly have not hit F1 2022’s new era running.
F1 drivers and teams have safety assurances following the missile attack on an Aramco oil facility on Friday, and qualifying and the race – which is live on Sky Sports F1 on Sunday at 5pm – are set to take place as scheduled.