FP3: Verstappen fastest again to sweep every practice session before qualifying in Jeddah
Max Verstappen set the fastest time in FP3 to lead his Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez by over six tenths of a second – and the rest of the field by nearly a second – as the championship leader swept all three practice sessions before qualifying in Saudi Arabia.
Verstappen, who led FP1 and FP2 on Friday, followed that up with another table-topping performance on Saturday afternoon, having equipped softs to set a lap of 1m 28.485s. The Dutchman improved steadily throughout the session with the track gripping up from spent tyre rubber, and temperatures decreasing towards sunset.
DATA POINTS: What we learned from Friday practice in Saudi Arabia
Perez ended up 0.613s off the pace in P2, while Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was third on the board – albeit 0.998s off the pace of Verstappen. He was the last driver within a second of the Dutchman, as Lance Stroll was 1.024s off the pace in P4.
Lewis Hamilton rounded out the top five for Mercedes, while his team mate George Russell took P11.
As for Ferrari, they left it late to set representative qualifying runs on soft tyres, with Charles Leclerc jumping to sixth overall and Carlos Sainz rounding out the top 10. Leclerc however has a 10-place grid penalty to contend with.
FORMULA 1 STC SAUDI ARABIAN GRAND PRIX 2023
Saudi Arabia 2023
Practice 3 results
|1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||1:28.485|
|2 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing||+0.613s|
|3 Fernando Alonso ALO Aston Martin||+0.998s|
|4 Lance Stroll STR Aston Martin||+1.024s|
|5 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||+1.083s|
McLaren were seventh and eighth on the timesheets, with Lando Norris just 0.008s ahead of rookie team mate Oscar Piastri.
Alpine's Pierre Gasly was 0.003s behind Piastri in P9, ahead of Sainz and Russell.
READ MORE: ‘It’s definitely not like Bahrain’ – Friday practice pace-setter Verstappen braced for ‘very close’ fight in Saudi Arabia
Zhou Guanyu finished a tenth behind Russell as he took 12th for Alfa Romeo, while Nico Hulkenberg was next on the charts in P13 for Haas.
Esteban Ocon took 14th for Alpine, and in 15th and 16th were the two Williams, with Alex Albon ahead of Logan Sargeant.
Kevin Magnussen took P17 for Haas ahead of Valtteri Bottas, and the AlphaTauris rounded out the timesheets with Yuki Tsunoda 19th on medium compounds and Nyck de Vries 20th having failed to set a time due to a power unit issue.
Qualifying is up next at 2000 local time, with Verstappen holding the cards as he seeks his first pole position in Saudi Arabia.