World Driving Champion Max Verstappen picked up where he left off Friday and turned the fastest lap in final practice for the 2023 Japanese GP.
–by Mark Cipolloni–
Verstappen’s lap of 1m30.267s topped the two McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri by 0.240s and 0.288s respectively.
Higher than normal temperatures in Suzuka this year are seeing tire degradation higher than all the teams expected. Both Red Bull drivers turned fewer laps than their main competitors as they look to save extra tires for the race
Sergio Perez was 4th fastest in the 311 Red Bull Honda, but a massive 0.737s behind Verstappen in the identical Red Bull Honda.
Charles Leclerc rounded out the top-5 for Ferrari, 0.1s ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr.
Verstappen’s time was a 1m 30.267s, a second slower than his pole from last year, which as it stands, he is well placed to surpass later on.
But it is McLaren who have emerged as the closest challenger today, as Ferrari fade.
Can McLaren take the fight to Verstappen later on? It certainly looks that way, those latest upgrades really doing the business for the papaya team.
American rookie Logan Sargeant beat his teammate Alex Albon for the first time this season as he fights to keep his seat in 2024.
So Red Bull from McLaren, Ferrari from Mercedes. The fight to make Q3 is going to be fraught later on, with relatively small gaps separating the field out there. One and a half tenths separated Perez in P4 down to Russell in P8, while the same difference separated Magnussen in P12 from Lawson in 17th.
Practice 3 Results
|1||Max Verstappen||NED||Oracle Red Bull Racing||1m30.267s||+0.000s||11|
|2||Lando Norris||GBR||McLaren F1 Team||1m30.507s||+0.240s||15|
|3||Oscar Piastri||AUS||McLaren F1 Team||1m30.555s||+0.288s||14|
|4||Sergio Perez||MEX||Oracle Bull Racing||1m31.004s||+0.737s||11|
|5||Charles Leclerc||MON||Scuderia Ferrari||1m31.022s||+0.755s||19|
|6||Carlos Sainz Jr.||ESP||Scuderia Ferrari||1m31.137s||+0.870s||19|
|7||Lewis Hamilton||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||1m31.159s||+0.892s||12|
|8||George Russell||GBR||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||1m31.505s||+1.238s||9|
|9||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant||1m31.549s||+1.282s||15|
|10||Zhou Guanyu||CHN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake||1m31.668s||+1.401s||14|
|11||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake||1m31.699s||+1.432s||14|
|12||Kevin Magnussen||DEN||MoneyGram Haas F1 Team||1m31.880s||+1.613s||15|
|13||Esteban Ocon||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m31.924s||+1.657s||12|
|14||Yuki Tsunoda||JPN||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m31.951s||+1.684s||17|
|15||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||MoneyGram Haas F1 Team||1m31.979s||+1.712s||12|
|16||Logan Sargeant||USA||Williams Racing||1m30.002s||+1.735s||12|
|17||Liam Lawson||NZL||Scuderia AlphaTauri||1m32.048s||+1.781s||17|
|18||Alex Albon||THA||Williams Racing||1m32.113s||+1.846s||11|
|19||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant||1m32.154s||+1.887s||18|
|20||Pierre Gasly||FRA||BWT Alpine F1 Team||1m32.199s||+1.932s||14|