Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on September 23, 2023 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1: Verstappen tops final practice for Japanese GP

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
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