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HomeClassic Car InvestFP3: Verstappen tops final practice as McLaren emerge as best of the...

FP3: Verstappen tops final practice as McLaren emerge as best of the rest

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Reigning champion Max Verstappen set the pace once again in the final free practice session at the Japanese Grand Prix as McLaren racers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri emerged as the fastest drivers in the chasing pack.

After topping the opening practice sessions on Friday, Max Verstappen continued to impress in the final one-hour practice. The Dutchman used two sets of Pirelli’s soft tyres to set the best time of the weekend with a time of 1m30.267s.

McLaren looked strong yesterday, and they managed to edge even closer to the reining champion in the final practice with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri finishing just over two tenths of a second behind in P2 and P3 respectively.

Sergio Perez finished fourth, but considering his car’s speed around the Suzuka International Circuit, he appears to struggle for pace over a single flying lap.

Ferrari drivers were the first ones to hit the track today, using two sets of fresh red-banded softs in the 60-minute session. After suffering from balance issues in Monza and Singapore, Charles Leclerc appears to emerge as the faster Ferrari driver as he beat his team-mate Carlos Sainz once again with the pair taking fifth and sixth.

The Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell followed the Ferrari drivers – with both drivers looking more comfortable today after what Hamilton described as a “tough” Friday.

Fernando Alonso was ninth fastest with his Aston Martin continuing to lack one-lap pace. Zhou Guanyu completed the top 10 for Alfa Romeo, less than a tenth ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

After AlphaTauri confirmed him as one of their racing drivers once again in 2024, Yuki Tsunoda put his car in P14 on home soil, three places higher up than his new team-mate Liam Lawson. However, the pair was separated by less than a tenth of a second with the fight in the Q2 and Q3 qualifying sessions set to turn out extremely exciting and tight.

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.

Results

Pos. No. Driver Car Time Gap Laps
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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