Suzuka, FP3: Verstappen continues to set the pace in Japan
Ahead of McLaren’s Norris and Piastri
Max Verstappen made it a clean sweep in practice as he followed his fastest times in Friday’s two practice sessions with the quickest lap of final practice, beating the McLaren pairing of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri by almost three tenths of a second.
The final hour of practice at Suzuka featured little track action in its first half as many team chose to keep their drivers in their garages and only a smattering of the field ventured out on track to test the conditions on Softs and then conduct longer runs on the same set with an eyes on the first stint of the grand prix.
But as the second half of the session developed, drivers began to emerge on fresh Soft for qualifying simulations. Piastri jumped to the top of the order, four tenths clear of Verstappen, who had led the way with a lap of 1:30.906 from an earlier run on Softs, and then Norris went even quicker to top the timesheet with a lap of 1:30.507.
Verstappen, though, was also out on track for a qualifying simulation and the Dutchman once again claimed top spot with a lap of 1:30.267, 0.240s ahead of Norris.
Behind the top three Sergio Pérez finished fourth in the other Red Bull Racing RB19, but the Mexican driver was 0.737 adrift of his title-leading team-mate and almost half a second off the McLaren cars.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished fifth and sixth respectively, though Leclerc ended the session 0.755 of Verstappen with Sainz a further tenth back. Seventh place on the timesheet went to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, 0.892 off the pace. The seven-time champion was the last driver within a second of Verstappen, with eighth place going to George Russell in the second Mercedes who was 1.238 slower than Verstappen. Fernando Alonso was ninth for Aston Martin and the top-10 was rounded out by Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu who was 1.4s off the pace.
|01||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19||1:30.267||12|
|02||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes MCL60||1:30.507||16|
|03||Oscar Piastri||McLaren Mercedes MCL60||1:30.555||15|
|04||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19||1:31.004||12|
|05||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari SF-23||1:31.022||20|
|06||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari SF-23||1:31.137||20|
|07||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W14||1:31.159||13|
|08||George Russell||Mercedes W14||1:31.505||9|
|09||Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23||1:31.549||16|
|10||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43||1:31.668||15|
|11||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43||1:31.699||15|
|12||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari VF-23||1:31.880||16|
|13||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault A523||1:31.924||13|
|14||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04||1:31.951||18|
|15||Nico Hülkenberg||Haas Ferrari VF-23||1:31.979||13|
|16||Logan Sargeant||Williams Mercedes FW45||1:32.002||13|
|17||Liam Lawson||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04||1:32.048||18|
|18||Alex Albon||Williams Mercedes FW45||1:32.113||12|
|19||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23||1:32.154||19|
|20||Pierre Gasly||Alpine Renault A523||1:32.199||15|