Suzuka, FP3: Verstappen quickest in final practice for Japanese Grand Prix
Sainz 2nd, Leclerc 3rd
F1 Drivers’ World Championship leader Max Verstappen topped the final practice ahead of qualifying for the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix beating Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz by almost three tenths of a second in the first dry practice session of the sport’s return to Suzuka.
After heavy rain on Friday led to two sessions run on full wet or intermediate tyres, Saturday presented teams with more favourable conditions and led to a bust final hour as driver attempted to get a read on the C1-C3 slick tyres on offer in Suzuka.
Mercedes’ George Russell posted the first lap time of the hour, crossing the line in 1:37.969 before Sainz bypassed that by more than two seconds. Five minutes into the session Verstappen appeared on softs and he dropped the benchmark to 1:32.050 to sit 1.186s clear of team-mate Sergio Pérez who had also joined the fray. McLaren’s Lando Norris then slotted into third place just ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Verstappen held top spot through the hallway mark and the period in which many drivers began to switch to soft tyres. Sainz jumped to the top of the timesheet, some 1.085s ahead of the Dutchman thanks to a lap of 1:30.965 on the red-banded tyres. the Spaniard’s team-mate then took second place with a lap of 1:31.388.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso improved to fourth on medium tyres, just behind Verstappen’s early soft tyre lap. Esteban Ocon in the second Alpine slotted into fifth on the same tyre.
Verstappen then returned the action, this time on medium tyres, and he demonstrated the superior pace of the Red Bull by jumping to P2, 0.351 off Sainz on the less grippy tyres.
In the final ten minutes the session, with new softs for most, improvements came thick and fast. Leclerc used moved back to second, crossing the line just 0.015 off Sainz’s existing pace. Sainz then went for his qualifying simulation but couldn’t improve.
That left the door open for Verstappen and with purple times in all three sectors he jumped back to first place courtesy of a lap of 1:30.671s, 0.294 ahead of Sainz and just over three tenths clear of Leclerc.
Alonso ended the session in fourth ahead of Pérez, who finished the session 0.843s slower than his team-mate. Russell finished sixth ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton while Norris finished in eighth place ahead of Ocon and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll whjo completed the top 10.
Further back last place went to Pierre Gasly, who earlier in the morning had been announced as an Alpine driver for 2023 alongside Ocon. The Frenchman will be replaced at AlphaTauri by Nyck de Vries.
|01||Max Verstappen||Red Bull RBPT RB18||1:30.671||22|
|02||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari F1-75||1:30.965||27|
|03||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari F1-75||1:30.980||27|
|04||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault A522||1:31.320||20|
|05||Sergio Perez||Red Bull RBPT RB18||1:31.514||25|
|06||George Russell||Mercedes W13||1:31.530||28|
|07||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W13||1:31.589||25|
|08||Lando Norris||McLaren Mercedes MCL36||1:31.747||24|
|09||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault A522||1:31.750||22|
|10||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22||1:31.838||25|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren Mercedes MCL36||1:31.860||28|
|12||Alex Albon||Williams Mercedes FW44||1:31.946||26|
|13||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42||1:31.971||24|
|14||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22||1:32.222||25|
|15||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari VF-22||1:32.290||23|
|16||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari VF-22||1:32.366||24|
|17||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri RBPT AT03||1:32.377||26|
|18||Guanyu Zhou||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42||1:32.385||24|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes FW44||1:32.868||26|
|20||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri RBPT AT03||1:32.881||24|