F1 Emilia Romagna GP 2024 Free Practice 3: Oscar Piastri secures McLaren 1-2 in frenetic session

Follow all the action on the Total Motorsport live blog as teams and drivers hit Imola for FP3 at the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

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Welcome to this Total-Motorsport.com F1 blog for Free Practice 3 at the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, coming to you from the paddock at Imola as the 2024 Formula 1 season continues on into Europe for the summer.

Oscar Piastri topped the timing sheets ahead of Lando Norris to secure a McLaren 1-2 in the final 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix free practice session on Saturday.

In a drama-filled session with the red flag brought out twice, the Australian driver punched in a fine 1:15.562 lap time to beat his team-mate by three tenths of a second. Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc settled for P3 and P4, having set the pace for most of the session. But Red Bull’s true pace is still yet to be determined, with George Russell fifth and Max Verstappen only sixth fastest.

Mercedes‘ struggles continued in Italy with Lewis Hamilton a massive 1.4 seconds behind Piastri down in 17th. But the biggest loser from the session was Fernando Alonso, who made a rare error when losing the rear at Rivazza 1 and crashed into the barrier at the final corner.

The red flag was brought out with 27 minutes of the session left after the Aston Martin star took heavy damage to the rear of his AMR24 car. It remains to be seen whether the Spaniard’s car will be fixed in time for qualifying with less than three hours to mend the damage. And with only five minutes to go, Sergio Perez suffered a costly crash after colliding with the barrier at the chicane, bringing out the red flag again.

Emilia Romagna GP 2024 FP3 Imola: As it happened


FP3 CHECKERED FLAG! Piastri leads 1-2!

It’s a McLaren 1-2 with Piastri leading Norris by three tenths! What an interesting lineup for qualifying.

Verstappen didn’t make it to the flag in time, neither did Russell. Ferrari didn’t improve on their timed laps.

Oscar Piastri during practice for the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP | McLaren
Oscar Piastri during practice for the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP | McLaren

GREEN FLAG! TWO MINS TO GO!

Well, I guess third time’s a charm. We’re back at it again and with only two minutes to go, the cars are heading out for a final lap.

But some of them surely won’t make before the checkered flag given the traffic. And the Ferrari drivers, keen to get on with it, go side by side into the first corner! High drama for an FP3 session.

RED FLAG!

Perez follows Alonso’s lead and collides with the wall!

The Red Bull driver went in too hot at the chicane and paid the price. That should be the end of the session.

Piastri goes fastest!

Wow. Take a bow Piastri, who goes fastest by half a second with a 1:15.529. What a lap from the Australian!

10 MINS TO GO: Nothing to separate Sainz and Leclerc

No one has been able to beat Sainz’s fastest time of a 1:16.090, with Leclerc only 0.020s behind his Ferrari team-mate. Talk about close!

Some decent laps from the midfield and backmarkers coming in. Alex Albon is currently P6, while Valtteri Bottas is ninth.

Will we see some more qualifying simulation runs before the timer runs out? Lance Stroll – currently down in 18th – is putting in a flying lap and improves to P7.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc during 2024 Chinese GP weekend | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Track ramping up

Times are improving, with Russell and Hamilton gaining a few tenths on the medium tyre, while Tsunoda goes quicker on the softs.

But Piastri, who went purple in the second sector, dips his McLaren into the gravel at Rivazza 2 and loses a lot of time.

20 MINS TO GO: FP3 Timings

1) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 1:16.067

2) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari +0.020

3) Oscar Piastri, McLaren, +0.190

4) Max Verstappen, Red Bull +0.299

5) Lando Norris, McLaren +0.328

6) Sergio Perez, Red Bull +0.564

7) George Russell, Mercedes +0.918

8) Daniel Ricciardo, RB, +0.994

9) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes +1.012

10) Logan Sargeant, Williams +1.036

GREEN FLAG!

We’re back underway with 26 minutes left of the session remaining. Still no timed laps for Piastri and Tsunoda, who need to get a move on.

Big job ahead for Aston Martin

With qualifying starting at in just under three hours, the Aston Martin mechanics will have a huge job to repair Alonso’s car in time to get out on the track.

The significant damage looks to be on the rear-left of his AMR24 car, and there may be concerns for the gearbox too.

RED FLAG!

Fernando Alonso has crashed into the barrier!

That’s a huge shunt for the Spaniard, who lost the rear at the final corner at Rivazza.

A replay shows he managed to slow the car down enough when he hit the gravel, and it’s a relief to see him stepping out of the car without sustaining any serious injury.

Hamilton baffled by lack of pace

Lewis Hamilton asks his team “where is that two seconds” after being told the gap to Sainz – and worryingly, that was on the soft tyre. His race engineer Peter ‘Bono’ Bonnington replies: “0.8 on the straight”.

We’ve still got five drivers yet to set a time: Piastri, Ricciardo, Albon, Sargeant and Tsunoda.

Fight at the front

With 40 minutes to go, Leclerc and Verstappen are swapping places at the front and it does feel like this is going to be the story for qualifying. But don’t discount Sainz, who goes fastest overall.

We haven’t even mentioned McLaren yet and their new race winner Lando Norris. Will the Briton put himself in contention at a track where he is historically very quick?

Verstappen smokescreen?

We’re not suggesting for a moment Verstappen has exaggerated the problems with his RB20 car.

But he’s just gone two tenths behind Leclerc… on the medium tyre. Perez another two tenths back to highlight the Red Bull pace.

There may be some handling problems but there’s no questioning the power of that Red Bull Powertrains engine.

Red Bull vs Ferrari battle begins

It’s already heating up between the Red Bulls and Ferraris.

Sergio Perez goes quicker than his team-mate Max Verstappen, but Carlos Sainz trumps them both.

They’re still in the 1m 17s bracket, so there’s definitely some time to be found out there on the track.

Leclerc sets the pace

Leclerc – the quickest man in FP2 on Friday – is the first driver to get a time on the board and it’s a clean lap, as the Ferrari star crosses the line with a 1:17:808.

That’s nearly two seconds slower than his quickest lap yesterday, so you have to imagine he’s carrying some excess fuel on board.

FP3 GREEN LIGHT!

We’re underway at Imola!

Lando Norris and Lance Stroll are the first cars out of the garage as soon as the light went green. They’re keen to get their laps in.

Red Bull ‘feeling pressure’ from Ferrari and McLaren

Red Bull‘s technical director revealed that the team are feeling the pressure from their Formula 1 rivals as they bid to add performance to their car after a very challenging practice session at the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Pierre Wache made the admission following a Free Practice 1 that saw an out-of-sorts Red Bull fail to get their car under control during the one hour session on the same weekend that their rivals put the pressure on by bringing waves of upgrades.

“We feel pressure to put performance on the car,” Wache told press after FP1. “I think all people here feel the pressure to put performance in the car.

“It would be a dream to think that we can sleep on it and think we can wait and wins the championship like that, in this business you have to go ahead otherwise you go backward.

“We are we are looking to performance on the car, it doesn’t matter if in the last race [Miami GP] we won or not.”

Jonathan Wheatley, Pierre Wache, and Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen hits out at Hamilton

Max Verstappen was not in the mood for Lewis Hamilton’s apologies after being blocked by the Mercedes driver in FP2.

“It’s not the first time, you try to always stay calm about it,” Verstappen said. “But it happened again. I don’t want to really talk about it too much, because that’s not our issue. Today we were just severely off pace, that’s what we need to fix.”

Hamilton revealed he apologised to the Dutchman, who wasn’t interested in hearing his explanation.

“I was on a cool down lap,” Hamilton told media after the session. “I thought I was well clear, would have been well clear, and then he was right on me. Ultimately that was my mistake. I tried to apologise but he was too frustrated for sure.”

What happened in FP2?

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc went fastest in the second free practice session at Imola ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, with Max Verstappen over half a second behind the Ferrari.

But the real surprise was Yuki Tsunoda, who was P3 after punching in some fine laps in the VCARB-01.

Have a read of what happened in FP2 before we get going in Italy.

Good morning!

Hello and welcome to Total-Motorsport’s LIVE coverage of the Emilia Romagna GP FP3 session.

It’s qualifying day at Imola but first, the teams will be hoping to gather as much tyre and fuel data from the all-important hour-long session.

After their struggles yesterday, will Red Bull find a solution to satisfy Max Verstappen? Can Ferrari top the timings? And where are Mercedes this weekend? Find out with us in 30 minutes’ time!

Emilia Romagna GP 2024 Pirelli Tyre Info

Pirelli introduces the softest trio of dry tire compounds (C3, C4, and C5) at Imola for the first time, aiming to enhance strategy options in a race typically requiring just one pit stop. The circuit’s relatively abrasive asphalt and narrow layout, combined with a single DRS zone, make overtaking challenging, underscoring the importance of qualifying

Where to Watch the F1 2024 Emilia Romagna GP

Sky Sports F1 remains the home for live Formula 1 racing in the UK. The channel will provide comprehensive coverage of the Emilai Romagna GP, including practice, qualifying, and the race itself. Meanwhile, F1 fans in the USA can catch all the action across ESPN.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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