FP3: Verstappen heads dominant Red Bull one-two in final practice
Reigning world champion Max Verstappen set the benchmark in the final practice at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz having struggled for pace in the crucial session ahead of qualifying.
Max Verstappen led the way early on despite using the Pirelli's hard compound, demostrating his RB19's eye-catching aerodynamic efficiency. The Dutchman then set a 1m28.485s on the red-walled tyres to head the final session ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez.
The Mexican endured mechanical woes yesterday, and was hopeful to close the gap to Verstappen on Saturday, but the first indications show that he lost further connection to the reigning champion as the pair was separated by over six tenths of a second.
Aston Martin continued where they left off yesterday with Fernando ALonso and Lance Stroll occupying the third and fourth spot on the timesheets respectively.
It was a much more promising session for Lewis Hamilton as he rounded out the top five while his team mate George Russell took P11, but they were only separated by two tenths of a second.
Following a raft of technical problems at round one of the 2023 F1 season, McLaren displayed good performance in the final session. Lando Norris set the seventh fastest time with his rookie team mate Oscar Piastri ended up P8, racking up an impressive mileage with 23 laps.
A nerve-wracking moment for Esteban Ocon who very nearly loses it! 🤯#SaudiArabianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/990eStBHSc— Formula 1 (@F1) March 18, 2023
As for Ferrari, the Scuderia had another low-key session with both of their driver seemingly stuggling for pace. The Italians 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.
After displaying increcidble one-lap pace yesterday, Alpine started the final practice in a strong fashion, but Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon finished the 60-minute practice only in P9 and P14 respectively in the ultra-tight mid-field battle.
Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen took P13 and P17 for Haas respectively ahead of Ala Romeo's Valtteri Bottas- 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.
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:28.485||19|
|2||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda Rbpt||1:29.098||+0.613s||14|
|3||14||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:29.483||+0.998s||20|
|4||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:29.509||+1.024s||20|
|7||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:29.690||+1.205s||17|
|8||81||Oscar Piastri||Mclaren Mercedes||1:29.698||+1.213s||22|
|9||10||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault||1:29.701||+1.216s||18|
|12||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:29.917||+1.432s||20|
|13||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Haas Ferrari||1:29.933||+1.448s||18|
|14||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:29.953||+1.468s||18|
|15||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:29.983||+1.498s||17|
|16||2||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes||1:30.035||+1.550s||17|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:30.131||+1.646s||14|
|18||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:30.317||+1.832s||19|
|19||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda Rbpt||1:30.797||+2.312s||19|