Alonso and Perez crash in qualifying dress rehearsal, McLaren ahead of Ferrari

The numerous Tifosi had to miss out on Ferrari’s third best time of the weekend in the third free practice session for the Emilia Romagna GP. Instead, the Ferrari duo had to line up behind the McLaren duo Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris in the qualifying dress rehearsal. However, the usual showdown at the end of the session fell victim to a late training break.

When training in Imola was reopened two minutes before the end, only a few pilots managed to complete a free lap. The interruption was caused by an accident involving Sergio Perez, who after Fernando Alonso was responsible for the second red phase in final training (see incidents).

The result: With 1:15.529 minutes, Oscar Piastri set the fastest time of the weekend so far at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. The Australian set the fastest time shortly before the last break and had ideal conditions. Teammate Lando Norris made it over the line before the clock ran out and was able to take second place – but was already three tenths of a second behind.

Carlos Sainz was a little more than half a second behind in third place. The Spaniard was a few thousandths faster than teammate Charles Leclerc. Both Ferrari drivers did not set their times in the final showdown, but much earlier in the session. George Russell came in fifth ahead of the world champion Max Verstappen. Alexander Albon, Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll and Nico H├╝lkenberg completed the top 10.

The incidents: After 24 minutes, the third training session had to be interrupted with red. Fernando Alonso lost his car in the second Rivazza and hit the barrier. In a seemingly strange accident, the Spaniard’s rear broke out between the turn-in point and the apex. The Aston Martin spun and hit the left side of the vehicle.

Although the impact was severe enough for the medical car to be deployed, Alonso was quickly able to give the all-clear from the cockpit. It is unclear whether he will be able to take part in qualifying this afternoon (start at 4:00 p.m.). After an eight-minute break, the session was released again.

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso moved his Aston Martin beyond the gravel trap in the third free practice session, Photo: LAT Images

The training session had to be interrupted again six minutes before the end. Sergio Perez lost his Red Bull in the Alta variant. Perez drove too hard over the curb at the entrance to the chicane, was outflanked and lost control. The Mexican hit the nose, front wing and the right front suspension. The damage to his RB20 is likely to be limited.

Race director Niels Wittich gave the go-ahead for practice two minutes before the clock ran out. Many drivers tried to complete their qualifying simulation. This led to spectacular duels on the out lap. The Ferrari drivers in particular tried everything to burn a fast lap into the asphalt. There was even a heated duel between Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly. In the end, no one benefited because both of them affected their fast laps.

In the rush, hairy situations arose everywhere on the route. Kevin Magnussen had to avoid the grass because he ran into two slow-moving racing bulls. However, the stewards see no reason to investigate the situations further.

The innovation: After the track limit chaos in Formula 2 and Formula 3 on Friday, new white lines were painted overnight. In many places the line that defines the route boundary has been widened. This means there is no longer enough space to drive between the gravel bed and the white line. The aim is to nip discussions about track limits in the bud.

The weather: As on training Friday, the weather was at its best. The Tifosi in the stands were able to enjoy Formula 1 under a bright blue sky at 24 degrees Celsius. 45 degrees were measured on the asphalt. Similar conditions are expected for today’s qualification, but meteorologists are no longer predicting any rain for tomorrow’s race.

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