Verstappen set pace in final practice session in Japan


Verstappen set pace in final practice session in Japan

Max Verstappen made it a practice clean sweep as he topped the timesheets during the final hour of running in Japan before qualifying later today. The Dutch driver lead the way ahead of the McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

After a busy first day in Suzuka, the teams returned on Saturday looking to finalise their setups ahead of qualifying. But the drivers were in no rush to get going in FP3, with only Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc out on track in the first 10 minutes.

But one by one the drivers began to file out onto the track with most opting to run the soft tyre. And after the first 20 minutes, it was Verstappen who held the benchmark time, with a lap of 1m 30.960s, to lead Norris by just 0.214s.

The drivers then strapped on another set of new soft tyres for a final low fuel run ahead of qualifying. And once again, it was Verstappen who led the way, with a time of 1m 30.267s to again lead Norris, who wound up 0.240s off the Dutch driver.

Piastri showed a good turn of pace on his flying lap to go third fastest, just 0.048s off his McLaren team mate, while Sergio Perez was fourth in the other Red Bull – although he was 0.737s off Verstappen’s pace-setting time.

Max Verstappen Red Bull
Max Verstappen Red Bull

To go to fourth, Perez jumped ahead of both Ferrari drivers, with Leclerc and Sainz ending up fifth and sixth, respectively. The Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell followed them – with both drivers looking more comfortable today after what Hamilton described as a “tough” Friday.

Fernando Alonso was ninth fastest for Aston Martin ahead of the Alfa Romeos of Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas in 10th and 11th. Kevin Magnussen was once again the lead Haas in 12th, ahead of the Alpine of Esteban Ocon.

Fresh from today’s announcement that Yuki Tsunoda would be staying with AlphaTauri – alongside Daniel Ricciardo – next year, the home favourite ended the session in 14th, ahead of the second Haas of Nico Hulkenberg.

Logan Sargeant was the lead Williams in 16th ahead of his team mate Alex Albon in 18th, with the other AlphaTauri Liam Lawson sandwiched between the pair in 17th.

Lance Stroll was 19th for Aston Martin, while Pierre Gasly – recovering from his session ending crash in FP2 – brought up the rear of the field for Alpine in 20th.


1 1 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 1:30.267 12
2 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:30.507 +0.240s 16
3 81 Oscar Piastri MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:30.555 +0.288s 15
4 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 1:31.004 +0.737s 12
5 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 1:31.022 +0.755s 20
6 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 1:31.137 +0.870s 20
7 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:31.159 +0.892s 13
8 63 George Russell MERCEDES 1:31.505 +1.238s 9
9 14 Fernando Alonso ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 1:31.549 +1.282s 16
10 24 Zhou Guanyu ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 1:31.668 +1.401s 15
11 77 Valtteri Bottas ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 1:31.699 +1.432s 15
12 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:31.880 +1.613s 16
13 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 1:31.924 +1.657s 13
14 22 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 1:31.951 +1.684s 18
15 27 Nico Hulkenberg HAAS FERRARI 1:31.979 +1.712s 13
16 2 Logan Sargeant WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:32.002 +1.735s 13
17 40 Liam Lawson ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 1:32.048 +1.781s 18
18 23 Alexander Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:32.113 +1.846s 12
19 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 1:32.154 +1.887s 19
20 10 Pierre Gasly ALPINE RENAULT 1:32.199 +1.932s 15



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