F1: Verstappen tops final practice for Australian GP
–by Mark Cipolloni–
Defending World Driving Champion Max Verstappen ran most of the final practice session for the Australian GP on medium tires and heavy fuel load to simulate race conditions at the 5.278-kilometer Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.
Verstappen then strapped on a set of Soft Red Pirelli tires late in the session and on his first qualifying sim lap went fastest with a time of 1m17.565s before a light drizzle hit the track.
For reference, Charles Leclerc was on pole last year for Ferrari with a time of 1m17.868s
Fernando Alonso was 2nd quick for Aston Martin, just 0.162s behind the Dutchman’s Red Bull Honda.
Esteban Ocon was third for Alpine 0.373s behind and ahead of the Mercedes of George Russell.
Pierre Gasly in the 2nd Alpine rounded out the top-5 ahead of the 2nd Red Bull of Sergio Perez who had a horrible session. Perez was late getting out because of left rear suspension issues and then had several offs before finally getting in a decent lap, good for 6th.
Piastri could be in a spot of bother here, the stewards are going to have a look at one of his practice starts. The drivers are meant to pull into the first available grid slot when doing their allotted start, and it seems he pulled into the P3 grid box rather than pole, which was available.
So all in all not a good day for McLaren, with Norris sitting out the end of the session with a clutch issue and unable to bolt on a set of softs at all before qualifying. That being said, if the rain hangs around, maybe his time on the inters yesterday will stand him in good stead.
Next up is qualifying at 1:00am ET.
Practice 3 Results
|1||1||NED||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:17.565||+0.000||24|
|2||14||ESP||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:17.727||+0.162s||26|
|3||31||FRA||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:17.938||+0.373s||23|
|5||10||FRA||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault||1:18.094||+0.529s||23|
|6||11||MEX||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:18.123||+0.558s||18|
|9||18||CAN||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:18.198||+0.633s||22|
|10||24||CHN||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:18.330||+0.765s||20|
|11||27||GER||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas Ferrari||1:18.410||+0.845s||24|
|12||23||THA||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:18.553||+0.988s||21|
|14||81||AUS||Oscar Piastri||McLaren Mercedes||1:18.713||+1.148s||21|
|15||77||FIN||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:18.809||+1.244s||24|
|16||22||JPN||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Honda||1:18.901||+1.336s||22|
|17||2||USA||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes||1:18.947||+1.382s||20|
|18||20||DEN||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:19.056||+1.491s||26|
|19||21||NED||Nyck De Vries||AlphaTauri Honda||1:19.092||+1.527s||23|
|20||4||GBR||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes||1:19.146||+1.581s||12|