Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Max Verstappen was miles ahead of the rest in final practice, but it looks to be a very close fought battle for everyone else.
The final practice of the weekend got off to a slow start, the Aston Martins were the only cars out within the first few minutes. It was a little less leisurely down at AlphaTauri though where an issue had been detected on Nyck de Vries’ car and the team didn’t think the Dutch driver would be able to take part in the session as they needed to change his power unit. Not ideal for de Vries as he’s the only driver who hasn’t raced at Jeddah before.
(FP3) Third Practice Results – 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
After doing a couple of install laps on the medium and hard tyres the Astons went back to their garages and the track went silent again. Just before the first ten minutes ticked down, the McLarens then decided to head out and that started a slow trickle of cars heading out.
The first timed lap was on the board with 47 minutes to go, a 1:32.531 on the mediums, from Oscar Piastri. It took ten more minutes for all drivers, apart from de Vries, to put a time in, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez being the last to do so, and it was the Mexican who put it on top with a 1:29.417 on the softs, ahead of his teammate on the hards and the two Alpines on softs.
The track quietened down again around the halfway mark with only a handful of cars still circulating and while Perez’ time was still top, Max Verstappen had closed the gap to just 0.132 seconds on his set of hard tyres.
Heading into the final twenty minutes and everyone was on the softs for qualifying preparations. Perez had brought his time down to a 1:29.127 but once Verstappen started with the fastest tyres he put in a 1:28.756 to demote his teammate from P1, Lewis Hamilton and Alonso were both over eight tenths further back in P3 and P4.
While traffic was a bit of an issue towards the end it was Verstappen who remained on top and the only driver in the 1:28s, ending the session over six tenths ahead of anyone else with a 1:28.485. Perez ended P2 with a 1:29.098 while Alonso in P3 was the only other driver within a second of the reigning champion.
Stroll took P4 ahead of Hamilton and Charles Leclerc. The two McLarens slotted into P7 and P8, Lando Norris just a few thousandths ahead of his teammate. Pierre Gasly took P9 while Carlos Sainz rounded out the top ten with a 1:29.761.