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F1 Japanese GP: Verstappen heads Perez in final practice

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez led a Red Bull 1-2 in FP3 for Formula 1’s 2024 Japanese Grand Prix, with Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton third and fourth.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Under brighter and slightly warmer conditions compared to Friday, Verstappen lined up first at the end of the pitlane and led off on a long first stint on the mediums, which meant he set the first place benchmark at 1m30.265s, but was soon supplanted by the soft-shod Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver’s 1m30.065s first flier remained the top spot throughout the first third of the one-hour session, which featured Kevin Magnussen going off into the gravel at the hairpin and Daniel Ricciardo spinning at Turn 2.

To make up for the FP2 washout on Friday, the teams then spent the middle part of the session completing long-run data-gathering stints nearly five seconds off the leading pace.

This meant Hamilton’s early flier continued as the benchmark way past the halfway point, with his team-mate Russell book-ending the standings at this stage for Mercedes, with the younger Briton having started FP3 with a long run immediately, using the medium tyres.

Red Bull and Ferrari also spent the middle phase of the session assessing the durability of the yellow-walled tyres, while Mercedes and McLaren had Hamilton and Oscar Piastri respectively do their higher fuel running on the softs.

Aston Martin went alone in using hard tyres aboard the AMR23s – Fernando Alonso’s finally running the updated sidepods that had been on Lance Stroll’s car only on Friday.

In the other McLaren, Lando Norris eschewed a similar run plan – instead making set-up alterations in the pits and then attempting a further flier to the one that had put him third in the early stages on used tyres.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

As the final third approached, the pack headed back to the pits en masse and re-emerged after a lull in track action for a 15-minute blast of flying efforts on soft tyres to give the drivers a final chance to get their eyes in on lower fuel ahead of qualifying.

With 10 minutes to go, Russell jumped from the foot of the field to finally topple Hamilton’s leading time with a 1m29.918s before Verstappen forged ahead on a 1m29.563s – a lap that featured no purple sectors.

Hamilton’s late qualifying simulation run returned a personal best, but a fraction behind Russell, with the pair then shuffled back by Perez’s run to 0.269s behind Verstappen in second – where he complained about his wing mirrors oscillating as his team-mate had done earlier.

With Alonso slotting into fifth for Aston, Norris’s personal best put him sixth – the McLaren driver having to abandon his first late flier on new softs due to a big sideways moment at Degner 2, where Piastri had also saved a huge snap on the exit kerb during the long runs.

Norris’s best time therefore came with softs well past their best, while Ferrari’s cause was led by Sainz in seventh – the red team running slightly out of kilter with the other frontrunners due to spending more time long-running in the middle phase/

But Charles Leclerc could only manage 10th in the other SF-24, behind the Sainz-trailling Piastri and Yuki Tsunoda.

F1 Japanese GP - FP3 results:

Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 23


2 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 25



0.269 232.714
3 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes 24



0.086 232.491
4 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 21



0.119 232.184
5 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes 24



0.045 232.068
6 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes 14



0.055 231.926
7 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 27



0.034 231.839
8 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 19



0.055 231.698
9 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 RB Red Bull 21



0.115 231.403
10 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari 25



0.042 231.295
11 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 Williams Mercedes 23



0.150 230.912
12 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 Sauber Ferrari 26



0.013 230.879
13 Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 RB Red Bull 24



0.136 230.533
14 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 Alpine Renault 18



0.340 229.671
15 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 Sauber Ferrari 16



0.045 229.558
16 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 Haas Ferrari 21



0.072 229.377
17 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 Alpine Renault 19



0.002 229.372
18 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 Aston Martin Mercedes 23



0.201 228.867
19 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 Williams Mercedes 20



0.110 228.592
20 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 Haas Ferrari 22



0.010 228.567

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