Oscar Piastri tops timesheets in final Imola practice

Staff WritersDeutsche Presse Agentur
McLaren's Australian ace Oscar Piastri was fastest in final practice at Imola's Emilia Romagna GP. (AP PHOTO)
Camera IconMcLaren's Australian ace Oscar Piastri was fastest in final practice at Imola's Emilia Romagna GP. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP

Oscar Piastri has topped final practice for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix from his McLaren teammate Lando Norris.

Meanwhile, world champions Red Bull continued to suffer with Max Verstappen sixth and Sergio Perez crashing into the barriers on Saturday.

Piastri clocked 1 minute 15.529 seconds around the 4.909km Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari to top the timesheets ahead of recent Miami race winner Norris.

The Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, who had dominated both sessions on Friday, followed in third and fourth, and George Russell of Mercedes was fifth.

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Verstappen had struggled in fifth and seventh on Friday, complaining about a lack of grip, and was sixth on Saturday.

For Piastri, who had also delivered the second fastest time in second practice on Friday, it was another sign that he could challenge for his first grand prix triumph in Sunday's race now his car has been given the full package of upgrades that was enjoyed by Norris in his recent Miami victory.

But Verstappen, and others, were effectively denied another fast lap after the red flag came out for the second time when Perez crashed with just over five minutes left.

Drivers went out one last time with two minutes left which led to a pair of scary moments involving Alpine's Pierre Gasly and Piastri as well as Kevin Magnussen of Haas and the two Visa RBs.

The session had already been red-flagged a first time for a few minutes almost halfway through the session when Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso spun off and hit the barriers hard.

The Spaniard escaped the incident unharmed but like Red Bull with Perez's car, Aston Martin faced a race against time to repair the car within three hours until qualifying later on Saturday.

Red Bull won all but one of the 22 races held in 2023, but have already been beaten twice in six events this year thanks to Carlos Sainz of Ferrari in Australia and McLaren's Norris in Miami.

But Verstappen leads the championship, 33 points ahead of teammate Sergio Perez, with Leclerc another five back.

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