FP3: Verstappen leads Norris and Piastri in action-packed final practice hour in Japan
Max Verstappen made it a practice clean sweep as he topped the timesheets during the final hour of running in Japan before qualifying later today. The Dutch driver lead the way ahead of the McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.
After a busy first day in Suzuka, the teams returned on Saturday looking to finalise their setups ahead of qualifying. But the drivers were in no rush to get going in FP3, with only Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc out on track in the first 10 minutes.
But one by one the drivers began to file out onto the track with most opting to run the soft tyre. And after the first 20 minutes, it was Verstappen who held the benchmark time, with a lap of 1m 30.960s, to lead Norris by just 0.214s.
The drivers then strapped on another set of new soft tyres for a final low fuel run ahead of qualifying. And once again, it was Verstappen who led the way, with a time of 1m 30.267s to again lead Norris, who wound up 0.240s off the Dutch driver.
FORMULA 1 LENOVO JAPANESE GRAND PRIX 2023
Practice 3 results
|1 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing||1:30.267|
|2 Lando Norris NOR McLaren||+0.240s|
|3 Oscar Piastri PIA McLaren||+0.288s|
|4 Sergio Perez PER Red Bull Racing||+0.737s|
|5 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari||+0.755s|
Piastri showed a good turn of pace on his flying lap to go third fastest, just 0.048s off his McLaren team mate, while Sergio Perez was fourth in the other Red Bull – although he was 0.737s off Verstappen’s pace-setting time.
To go to fourth, Perez jumped ahead of both Ferrari drivers, with Leclerc and Sainz ending up fifth and sixth, respectively. The Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell followed them – with both drivers looking more comfortable today after what Hamilton described as a "tough" Friday.
Fernando Alonso was ninth fastest for Aston Martin ahead of the Alfa Romeos of Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas in 10th and 11th. Kevin Magnussen was once again the lead Haas in 12th, ahead of the Alpine of Esteban Ocon.
Fresh from today’s announcement that Yuki Tsunoda would be staying with AlphaTauri – alongside Daniel Ricciardo – next year, the home favourite ended the session in 14th, ahead of the second Haas of Nico Hulkenberg.
Logan Sargeant was the lead Williams in 16th ahead of his team mate Alex Albon in 18th, with the other AlphaTauri Liam Lawson sandwiched between the pair in 17th.
Lance Stroll was 19th for Aston Martin, while Pierre Gasly – recovering from his session ending crash in FP2 – brought up the rear of the field for Alpine in 20th.
All three practice sessions are now complete and the drivers will now ready themselves for qualifying later today at 1500 local time.