Event: Japanese Grand Prix
Track: Suzuka Circuit

Weather: dry  28.5°C
Tarmac: dry  45.7°C
Humidity : 46%
Wind : 10.8 km/h S
Pressure: 10140 mbar

FP3 Report: Japanese Grand Prix - Verstappen Commands, McLaren Surprises

The engines roared again under the Land of the Rising Sun's sky, as teams and drivers took to Suzuka Circuit for the final hour of practice, aka FP3, before the all-important qualifying session. Suzuka's flowing corners and grassy runoffs made no room for mistakes, setting the stage for an electrifying hour of track action.

The AlphaTauri Drama

AlphaTauri threw in a subplot, confirming their 2024 driver line-up with Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo—leaving young gun Liam Lawson mulling over a "what could have been" scenario.

The Speed Kings

Max Verstappen looked like the man to beat, sitting pretty atop the time sheets in both FP1 and FP2. He extended his reign into FP3 with a sizzling performance, solidifying his status as the weekend’s favorite. However, the Dutchman wasn't alone in making the headlines.

The Surging Stallions and Charging McLarens

Ferrari looked keen to lock horns with Verstappen, but couldn't quite reach the lofty heights of the Red Bull ace. Instead, the McLaren boys were the ones stealing the limelight, as Lando Norris and rookie Oscar Piastri followed Verstappen closely in the timings. Could the papaya-orange rockets be preparing for an ambush in the qualifying session?

Halfway Order during FP3

Halfway the session the top 10 order drivers all used the soft Pirelli tyres and the order was: 1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:30.960, 2. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.214, 3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.736, 4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.810, 5. George Russell (Mercedes) +0.8.20, 6. Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) +0.822, 7. Oscar Piastri (McLaren) +0.931, 8. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +1.041, 9. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +1.127 & 10. Alex Albon (Williams) +1.153.

The Underperformers

Sergio Perez couldn’t quite match his Red Bull teammate's pace, but the real shocker came from Mercedes, who seemed to be struggling to find their feet. Lewis Hamilton did manage to pick up some momentum, but the silver arrows were far from threatening the frontrunners.

The Tire Saga

With high track temperatures causing higher-than-expected tire degradation, Pirelli’s hard rubber selection came under scrutiny. Teams looked perplexed and treaded cautiously—some even experiencing fiery moments, quite literally, like Lawson who reported his brakes being on fire!

The Closing Laps

As the clock wound down, it was Verstappen leading the pack with Norris and Piastri in hot pursuit. The rest of the field had little to separate them, and it was anyone's game to make it into Q3.

Final Thoughts

With Verstappen looking almost invincible and McLaren throwing down the gauntlet, the stage is set for a dramatic qualifying session. Don’t forget, Suzuka is not just another circuit; it's a theater of speed where legends are made. Will we see another legendary performance today? Strap in, folks—things are about to get fast and furious!

And remember, traffic could play spoilsport in Q1, so drivers will need their wits about them to avoid ending up in the barriers—or worse, in the back of the grid. With the first chapter of this weekend's high-speed drama concluded, we're eagerly waiting for the curtains to rise on the next act: qualifying. Stay tuned!

Quickest Sector Times

The fastest sectors times during this final practice were:

  • Sector 1: 31.307 sec. by Lando Norris (McLaren MCL60)
  • Sector 2: 40.859 sec. by Max Verstappen (Red Bull RB19)
  • Sector 2: 18.047 sec. by Max Verstappen (Red Bull RB19)

The fastest lap time of last year during FP3 was a 1:30.671, set by Max Verstappen with the Red Bull RB18 on a set of soft tyres.

FP3 Times Table 2023 Japanese GP

P No Driver Team Time 1st Gap Laps Tyres
1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:30,267 11 S
2 4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:30,507 +0,240s 15 S
3 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:30,555 +0,288s 14 S
4 11 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:31,004 +0,737s 11 S
5 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:31,022 +0,755s 19 S
6 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:31,137 +0,870s 19 S
7 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31,159 +0,892s 12 S
8 63 George Russell Mercedes 1:31,505 +1,238s 9 S
9 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:31,549 +1,282s 15 S
10 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:31,668 +1,401s 14 S
11 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:31,699 +1,432s 14 S
12 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:31,880 +1,613s 15 S
13 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:31,924 +1,657s 12 S
14 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:31,951 +1,684s 17 S
15 27 Nico Hülkenberg Haas 1:31,979 +1,712s 12 S
16 2 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:32,002 +1,735s 12 S
17 40 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri 1:32,048 +1,781s 17 S
18 23 Alex Albon Williams 1:32,113 +1,846s 11 S
19 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:32,154 +1,887s 18 S
20 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:32,199 +1,932s 14 S

✅ Check out our 2023 Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix preview.

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