Russell was faster on the last morning from Barcelona running amid a wave of red flags

Mercedes topped their first pre-season laps for 2022 as George Russell took the lead on the third and final day in Barcelona – but five red flags, including two separate incidents, permeated the proceedings.

All 10 cars showed up on a cold Barcelona morning, but the session was red before the hour mark when Fernando Alonso (P7, lap 12) pulled up from the Alps with smoke coming out of the back of his A522. Then Alpine stated that it would not show up for the rest of the day, citing a hydraulics problem.

READ MORE: Pirelli to take a wet weather test at Barcelona’s last straight session

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly (P9) took out a second stop when he crashed into Turn 5, causing damage to the front wing and suspension – leaving an hour of session remaining. Zhou Guanyu (P8) stopped in the gravel at Turn 10 shortly after the Gasly incident, and the green flags left about 30 minutes to play. But the session stalled again as he crawled to a stop on the main straight – and for the fifth time when Sebastian Vettel (P3) came to a halt with about five minutes remaining.

George Russell went fastest for Mercedes before the Gasly and Chu accidents, clocking 66 laps in the session high and setting a final record of 1 million 19.233 seconds. Teammate Lewis Hamilton is running in the afternoon – hoping to add more to his tally after a data logging issue and a sensor issue slashed his streak on Thursday morning.

Max Verstappen’s best effort of 1 million 19.765 seconds put the champion in second place after Russell. Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel got the P3 ahead of Zhou’s second edition, leaving Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc – the fastest in the next day – Four in the morning.

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Williams’ Nicholas Latifi finished in the top five, but was only given five laps. The Canadian traded with teammate Alex Albon (P10) halfway through the morning and his team plans to swap the pair again in the middle of the afternoon session.

Lando Norris got a P6 in place of McLaren, ahead of the ill-fated Alpine driver Alonso. Zhou was next on the Alfa Romeo board, completing 41 laps en route to P8 before stopping.

Further Read: Red Flags, Porpoises And Zhou’s First Outing – What We Learned From Day Two Of The Prep Race In Barcelona

With Gasly in ninth and Albon 10th, Haas’ Nikita Mazbin was last on the board. The team’s reliability problems persisted, with Mazepin completing just nine laps due to what Haas called a “suspected leak”.

The final era of pre-season 2022 in Barcelona will see Pirelli artificially soaking in the paddock for teams to operate 18-inch medium and wet vehicles – the likes of Hamilton and Sergio Perez to take over, with Every team changes drivers. Join us here for live coverage.

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