Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Pérez topped the timesheet in the sole practice session before qualifying for the 2022 FIA Formula 1 São Paulo Grand as F1 embarked on its final Sprint weekend of the season.
FP1 at Interlagos was a close-run affair, however, and Pérez beat Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to top spot by just four thousandths of a second, with 2022 World Champion Max Verstappen as further 0.008s back in third place.
Pérez made his way to P1 early in the session, running hard tyres to set a lap of 1:14.477 set in the first five minutes of the session. Verstappen soon beat that, though, recording a time of 1:14.104. Alfa Romeo’s Bottas then edged ahead but the Dutchman was quickly back in control with a lap of 1:13.646 which he then reduced to 1:13.575 as the session reached the quarter-hour mark.
A quiet period followed as drivers prepared for qualifying simulations and Pérez jumped back to the top of the order when he became the first to lap on soft tyres after 25 minutes.
The Mexican driver set a time of 1:11.853 to take P1 and he was followed by Verstappen who finished 0.008s adrift on a 1:11.861s, complaining that his car didn’t want to turn in.
Leclerc headed out on medium tyres and took third 0.5s off the pace. His Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz, who will take a five-place grid penalty on Sunday for using a sixth engine of the season in Brazil, moved ahead to take P3, almost three tenths off Pérez but using the medium tyres. As the final quarter of the session approached, Mercedes’ George Russell jumped up to fourth with his first run on the softs. The Briton was more than three tenths off the pace of Pérez, however.
As the Red Bull drivers moved to longer runs, Russell’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton went for his first run on the softs but he had to abandon it after going slightly wide on exit in Turn 7 and then locking up into Turn 8. Russell then went again and this time he got closer, just 0.202 off Pérez. He was then eclipsed by Hamilton who got to within two tenths, sitting 0.187 off the Mexican table topper.
With five minutes left in the session the Ferrari drivers emerged on soft tyres, with Sainz going first. The Spaniard went just 0.001s quicker than Hamilton but Leclerc then appeared to beat both with a lap of 1:11.857.
The Ferrari driver’s run meant Verstappen finished third ahead of Sainz and the Mercedes drivers. They were followed by Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher, as Bottas and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10.
2022 FIA Formula 1 São Paulo Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:11.853 29 215.890
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:11.857 0.004 31 215.878
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:11.861 0.008 28 215.866
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:12.039 0.186 30 215.333
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:12.040 0.187 25 215.330
6 George Russell Mercedes 1:12.055 0.202 24 215.285
7 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:12.157 0.304 30 214.981
8 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:12.314 0.461 27 214.514
9 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:12.466 0.613 31 214.064
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Red Bull 1:12.467 0.614 32 214.061
11 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:12.554 0.701 25 213.804
12 Alexander Albon Williams/Mercedes 1:12.633 0.780 29 213.572
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:12.705 0.852 30 213.360
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:12.759 0.906 26 213.202
15 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:12.955 1.102 28 212.629
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:12.997 1.144 25 212.507
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:13.019 1.166 32 212.443
18 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:13.115 1.262 30 212.164
19 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Red Bull 1:13.347 1.494 32 211.493
20 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:13.359 1.506 28 211.458