Japanese Grand Prix – Free Practice 3: Max Verstappen (Red Bull) ahead of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

This is what Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) feared and presented as logical, at the same time. A Red Bull above the lot. That of Max Verstappen. On Saturday, the Dutchman accompanied the return to good time at Suzuka with a best time during Free Practice 3 of the Japanese Grand Prix, the last qualifying session to follow, at 15:00 local time (08:00 French) .

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His five win streak abruptly interrupted last week in Singapore, the #1 RB18 driver restored order to the peloton by dominating the one-hour session, with a time of 1:30.671 on “soft” tyres. “They are fast everywhere and in all weather conditions, rain, dry… But I think we are too”Carlos Sainz had flown on Friday. The Spaniard from the Scuderia emerged as Batavio’s main rival but could not approach him at 0’294, and his teammate, Charles Leclerc, at 0’309.

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Author of the best lap on Friday on a wet track in free practice 1, Fernando Alonso stayed the course with Alpine by setting the fourth time, with 0’649, proof of the qualities of the A522 in this circuit that requires the celebration of The 42- Paddock veteran of one year, record holder of participations in Formula 1 (350), left Sergio PĂ©rez in almost 0.2 but the Mexican can make the excuse of traffic.

Mercedes came back to reality after Friday’s double, “unrepresentative” the Grays had warned. In fact, the sum is higher than expected: George Russell finished sixth with 0″843 and Lewis Hamilton with 0″859. This will not allow them, unless there are significant settings adjustments, to join the fight for a place in the second or third row.

As for the rest of the drivers eligible for Q3, we have to look at the final three drivers in the Top 10, Lando Norris (McLaren), Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and Lance Stroll (Aston Martin).

In the second part of the time sheet, it is worth highlighting the excellent 12th time of Alexander Albon (Williams) and the disappointing positions of the Honda-powered AlphaTauri. The local Yuki Tsunoda could only sign the 17th fastest time and Pierre Gasly, who will ride for Alpine in 2023, the 20th last time with 2″210.

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