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Emilio Romagna GP 2021

MARCH 18, 2023

Practice 3 Report - Verstappen and Perez dominate FP3

Max Verstappen, Saudi Arabian GP 2023
© Red Bull

By Mark Karp

Red Bull demonstrated their dominance in the final practice session for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen and Sérgio Pérez securing the top two positions, Perez 0.6s behind his teammate.

Fernando Alonso, driving for Aston Martin, was 0.998s behind Verstappen, highlighting the impressive pace of the RB19. As the temperature drops for the night qualifying session, Verstappen is favored to secure pole position.

Aston Martin managed to hold onto the third and fourth positions, but the gap to the rest of the field was significantly reduced, with Hamilton only 0.085 seconds behind Alonso. The competition for P3 is heating up, with a tight field from Alonso in P3 to Magnussen in P17.

Mercedes showed improvement, with Hamilton moving up to fifth place, followed by Charles Leclerc and the McLaren duo of Lando Norris and rookie Oscar Piastri.

George Russell, who had a different aero configuration on his W14, finished in P11.

Ferrari focused on race preparation, with both Leclerc and Sainz running on the medium compound tire for ten laps before switching to the softs. Leclerc managed to secure P6, while Sainz finished P10 due to traffic in the last sector.

Traffic was an issue in FP3, with Verstappen blocking Norris and Tsunoda blocking Zhou. The situation will be more chaotic in Q1 as teams adopt different tire strategies.

McLaren had a positive session, with Norris beating Piastri for P7 despite early torque delivery issues. Pierre Gasly, now using a new braking system on his Alpine A523, finished ninth but hinted at more potential. Esteban Ocon narrowly avoided a crash in Turn 4, finishing P14.

AlphaTauri planned to save all of Tsunoda's soft tires for Q1, resulting in his being last. Nyck de Vries did not participate in the session due to a Power Unit issue requiring a complete engine change, which could not be completed before the end of practice.