FP3: Verstappen bounces back with impressive speed in final practice

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F1 Grand Prix, GP USA, Circuit of The Americasus

Newly-crowned double world champion Max Verstappen set an impressive pace in the third and final practice at the F1 United States Grand Prix, beating the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. F1Technical's Balázs Szabó reports on Free Practice 3.

After Formula One teams conducted a blind test for Pirelli’s 2023 tyres in yesterday’s Free Practice 2, the final practice session saw driver return to a more conventional programme in a bid to fine-tune their setup for the Circuit of the Americas where overheating tyres usually cause headaches for drivers.

While most of the top drivers concentrated on Pirelli’s soft tyres in the final practice, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz opted for the medium tyre for his first run. Verstappen was the fastest following the first run, but the Spaniard was very close to the Dutchman despite his harder tyres which confirmed his impressive pace from yesterday.

The next minutes saw Sergio Perez top the timesheets with Lewis Hamilton also showing great pace, but it was Verstappen to set the benchmark with the newly-crowned world champion putting his Red Bull at the top of the timesheet ahead of Leclerc. Verstappen’s late effort was enough for him to finish an eye-catching 0.320s clear of Leclerc, who will serve a ten-place grid penalty for taking a new internal combustion engine and turbocharger.

Sainz and Perez finished behind the Dutchman and the Monegasque with Hamilton being only half a second of the pace. His teammate George Russell continues to struggle for sheer pace compared to Hamilton, ending the session in P7 with seven tenths of a second separating him from the seven-time world champion.

Fernando Alonso struggled with a lively rear end of his Alpine, but seemed to be extremely quick in the opening sector, taking sixth. His team mate Esteban Ocon set impressive pace in the opening part of the session, but was unable to make the best of the constantly evolving track in the end.

Aston Martin presented itself in a promising form with Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll taking 8th and 9th in the final practice.

The Silverstone based outfit’s fierce rival in the Constructors’ Championship, the Alfa Romeo team endured a mixed session. Valtteri Bottas ended the practice in P11, clocking a total of 23 laps, although his team mate Zhou Guanyu endured a difficult session which saw him complete only three laps.

Kevin Magnussen took 14th while his team mate Mick Schumacher ended the session in the second-to-last position after enduring a troublesome session due to an issue to the ERS water pump.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo complained of brake issues midway through the session, taking only 15th in the end, but his teammate Lando Norris was only a tenth of a second faster.

Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10 positions in his AlphaTauri with his team mate Yuki Tsunoda finishing down in P16, sixth tenths of a second adrift of the Frenchman.


11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:35.82521
216Charles LeclercFerrari1:36.145+0.320s17
355Carlos SainzFerrari1:36.271+0.446s24
411Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:36.397+0.572s19
544Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:36.401+0.576s16
614Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:36.928+1.103s13
763George RussellMercedes1:37.064+1.239s20
85Sebastian VettelAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:37.151+1.326s18
918Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:37.215+1.390s19
1010Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Rbpt1:37.290+1.465s17
1177Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:37.310+1.485s22
124Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:37.449+1.624s18
1331Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:37.468+1.643s17
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:37.519+1.694s20
153Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes1:37.622+1.797s15
1622Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Rbpt1:37.888+2.063s18
1723Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:37.904+2.079s17
186Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:38.028+2.203s17
1947Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:38.132+2.307s11
2024Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:39.735+3.910s3