Motor racing-Leclerc completes Spanish practice sweep for Ferrari

Formula One F1 - Spanish Grand Prix - Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain - May 21, 2022 Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in action during practice REUTERS/Albert Gea

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Formula One championship leader Charles Leclerc completed a Spanish Grand Prix practice sweep for Ferrari with the fastest time in the final session before qualifying for Sunday's race.

The Monegasque, who has a 19-point lead over Red Bull's reigning champion Max Verstappen after five races, was fastest in both Friday sessions and the man to beat again on a sunny Saturday.

He lapped the Circuit de Catalunya with a best time of one minute 19.772 seconds on the soft tyres, 0.072 quicker than Verstappen with Mercedes' George Russell third and 0.148 off the pace.

Verstappen complained over the radio that his car was not turning properly into turn five.

Seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton was fourth on the timesheets, 0.230 slower than Leclerc, with upgrades making the Mercedes look more competitive and with less bouncing on the straights.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz was fifth for Ferrari, with the team changing his chassis overnight due to a leaking fuel system, and Mexican Sergio Perez sixth for Red Bull.

Mick Schumacher suffered a right rear brake fire in the pits, with marshals and Haas mechanics hurrying to extinguish the flames.

AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly failed to set a time with the Frenchman stopping early on with a smoking engine.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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