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FP3: Verstappen fastest during final practice as Bearman makes his Ferrari debut in Saudi Arabia

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull

Max Verstappen set the pace in third and final practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as Kick Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu suffered a hefty crash to bring out the red flag.

Reigning world champion Verstappen bolted on a set of soft tyres – the Red Bull driver running just two sets of the red-walled tyres during the one-hour of running – to clock a 1m28.412s.

READ MORE: Sainz ruled out of Saudi Arabian GP with appendicitis as F2 racer Bearman steps up to replace him

That was 0.146s clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc – who has a temporary team mate for the rest of the weekend with reserve Oliver Bearman standing in for Carlos Sainz who has appendicitis.

Bearman – who was due to start the F2 race on pole for Prema before relinquishing that role for this weekend – delivered an assured performance after his late call-up, the Briton finishing 10th quickest.

Saudi Arabia 2024

Practice 3 results

PositionTeam NameTime
1VER1:28.412
2LEC+0.196s
3PER+0.494s
4RUS+0.552s
5NOR+0.559s
View Full Results

Sergio Perez made it two Red Bulls in the top-three, but he was 0.3s adrift of Leclerc’s and nearly half a second behind his team mate Verstappen.

Zhou caused a stoppage for around 10 minutes when he lost control of his Sauber at Turn 7, the Chinese driver losing control and hitting the barriers hard to cause significant damage.

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Sauber now face a race against time to get that car fixed in time to take part in qualifying later on Friday.

When the session got back under way, George Russell improved to end up fourth quickest – the leading Mercedes, with his team mate and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton ninth.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: The car of Zhou Guanyu of China and Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber is

Zhou Guanyu's heavy crash brought out the red flags in the session

Lando Norris was a fraction behind – just 0.07s in fact – in the McLaren with Fernando Alonso leading Aston Martin team mate Lance Stroll in sixth and seventh respectively, ahead of Oscar Piastri.

Elsewhere, Logan Sargeant lost a huge amount of track time when he clipped the wall, causing enough damage to his Williams to end his session early without having set a timed lap.

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The Alpines looked more competitive than in Bahrain, with Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon 12th and 14th respectively, with Yuki Tsunoda outpacing RB team mate Daniel Ricciardo by just over a tenth of a second.

Qualifying takes place at 20:00 local time.

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