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.
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:35.825||21|
|4||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:36.397||+0.572s||19|
|6||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:36.928||+1.103s||13|
|8||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:37.151||+1.326s||18|
|9||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:37.215||+1.390s||19|
|10||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:37.290||+1.465s||17|
|11||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:37.310||+1.485s||22|
|12||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:37.449||+1.624s||18|
|13||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:37.468||+1.643s||17|
|14||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:37.519||+1.694s||20|
|15||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:37.622||+1.797s||15|
|16||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:37.888||+2.063s||18|
|17||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:37.904||+2.079s||17|
|18||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:38.028||+2.203s||17|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:38.132||+2.307s||11|
|20||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:39.735||+3.910s||3|