Verstappen leads in the final practice in Japanese GP 2022


Verstappen leads in the final practice in Suzuka 2022

Championship leader, Max Verstappen set the pace for Red Bull amid much-improved weather conditions during final practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, edging out the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

After a soaking wet opening day of practice at Suzuka, the rain clouds made way for clearer skies and mild temperatures as the field gathered for some much-needed dry running in FP3, albeit with some gusts of wind in the air.

With drivers and teams pushing to gather as much data as possible, a variety of short and long runs – using a combination of Pirelli’s soft, medium and hard rubber – were carried out across the 60-minute session.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen

As for the soft-shod efforts, it was Verstappen who came out on top thanks to a late lap time of 1m 30.671s – Sainz lapping 0.294s slower, with Leclerc just 0.015s down on his team mate.

FORMULA 1 HONDA JAPANESE GRAND PRIX 2022 – Practice 3 results

1  Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing 1:30.671
2  Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.294s
3  Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.309s
4  Fernando ALONSO Alpine +0.649s
5  Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.843s

Fernando Alonso put his Alpine fourth with an impressive qualifying simulation, slotting a couple of tenths ahead of Singapore Grand Prix winner Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull.

George Russell led Mercedes’s charge in sixth position, half a tenth up on team mate Lewis Hamilton, though had a scare into the Turn 11 hairpin late on as he “almost crashed into” the slow-moving Pierre Gasly – announced as Alonso’s replacement at Alpine earlier in the day.

READ MORE: Gasly to race for Alpine F1 team in 2023

McLaren driver Lando Norris took eighth, ahead of Esteban Ocon’s Alpine – the battle for P4 in the constructors’ standings showing no signs of easing up – as Lance Stroll completed the top 10 for Aston Martin.

As he did in the wet on Friday, Daniel Ricciardo had another moment into the final chicane en route to 11th, followed by the leading Williams and Alfa Romeo machines of Alex Albon and Valtteri Bottas.

Sebastian Vettel took 14th in the second Aston Martin, as Haas driver Kevin Magnussen dropped from fifth in FP2 to 15th in the dry, and team mate Mick Schumacher made up for lost time after a chassis change brought on by his FP1 crash.

READ MORE: Nyck de Vries to drive for AlphaTauri in the 2023 season

Yuki Tsunoda’s maiden home Grand Prix weekend continued with a quiet run to 17th in his AlphaTauri, as Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo), Nicholas Latifi (Williams) and the other AT03 of Gasly completed the order – the field covered by 2.2 seconds.

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