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Sergio Perez tops final practice at Azerbaijan GP with Lewis Hamilton twelfth

Sergio Perez finished fastest in final practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Sergei Grits/AP)
Sergio Perez finished fastest in final practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix (Sergei Grits/AP)

Lewis Hamilton finished twelfth and more than a second and a half behind pacesetter Sergio Perez in final practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

As Perez, who is bidding to become the first driver to win twice on Baku’s tight streets, saw off Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by just 0.070 seconds to clinch top spot, Hamilton continued to struggle in his unruly Mercedes machine.

The seven-time world champion trailed team-mate George Russell by two tenths, with the younger Briton finishing eighth in the order.

“Did you turn the engine down,” a bemused Hamilton, 1.675 sec off the pace, asked.

His race engineer Peter Bonnington replied: “Affirm, Lewis. We are limited on mileage on that one.”

In the closing stages, Verstappen, who leads Leclerc by nine points, was on a lap primed to take him to the top of the charts only to be thwarted by the traffic.

“Unbelievable,” screamed the Dutchman. “Cars everywhere,” he added with a few expletives.

World champion Max Verstappen struggled with traffic
World champion Max Verstappen struggled with traffic (Sergei Grits/AP)

Verstappen finished third, 0.279 sec behind his team-mate with Carlos Sainz fourth.

Red Bull and Ferrari remain the teams to beat with Lando Norris fifth, 1.2 sec back. Norris’ struggling McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was an encouraging sixth.

The final action before qualifying was delayed by 15 minutes after the barriers at the opening corner were repaired following a crash in the earlier Formula Two sprint race.

Qualifying for the eighth round of 22 gets under way at 6pm local time (3pm UK).