LAS VEGAS: George Russell topped the time sheet for Mercedes in the third and final practice at the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix on Friday as excitement builds amid F1’s return to Sin City after nearly 40 years.
The Briton flew around the newly constructed track along the Las Vegas Strip in 1:34.093s, followed by McLaren’s young Australian Oscar Piastri and Logan Sargeant, who still hasn’t secured his seat with Williams for next season.
Red Bull’s triple world champion Max Verstappen took his time before going out and quickly grabbed the lead but ended up fourth on the time sheet.
Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez was fifth, ahead of Williams Alex Albon.
In another impressive outing, Albon posted the sixth fastest time around the floodlit circuit but may have ended his qualifying hopes later on Friday when he slammed into the wall, sending a rear tyre rolling down the Strip.
That brought out the yellow flags and the session to a premature end with about five minutes left to go.
Fernando Alonso was seventh best followed by Mercedes seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
A record-extending 18th win of the season for Verstappen in Saturday night’s race would be the 26-year-old Dutchman’s 53rd career victory, equalling the tally of four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel and lifting Verstappen to joint third in the all-time win lists.
Only Hamilton (103) and Michael Schumacher (91) have won more.
Despite Albon’s difficulties, the practice went off without any major incidents in sharp contrast to Thursday’s opening session, which was cancelled after only eight minutes when Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari was wrecked by a loose drain cover.
The drivers returned in the early morning hours on Friday for a 90-minute second practice that did not conclude until 4am and in front of empty grandstands.