There was no disputing Red Bull’s hegemony in Saturday’s final practice session in Jeddah, with Max Verstappen concluding FP3 nearly one full second ahead of the field.
Verstappen edged teammate Sergio Perez by 0.613s, but Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin was 0.998s adrift, the Spaniard clocking in just ahead of his combative teammate Lance Stroll.
Completing the top five, Lewis Hamilton offered a bit of hope to Mercedes that the Brackley squad can lead the midfield charge in qualifying this evening.
- Saudi Arabian GP Free Practice 3 – Results
Once again, the standard “irrelevant session” disclaimer applied to the final dress rehearsal before qualifying as the track conditions that will prevail this evening will be very different to those of FP2.
The weather was a bit overcast at the beginning of the afternoon but air temperatures were a toasty 27.2 °C, with track temps at 43 °C.
At the outset, the action was subdued out on the track as everyone took their time to kick into gear.
And the field was deprived of one runner with AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries sitting out the session due to a Honda power unit change at the back of the Dutchman’s AT04.
As the big guns joined the muted action, things finally started to rev up, with Gasly and Russell successively topping the times until Verstappen – running on the hard tyre – took control
But the Dutchman’s time at the top was short-lived as he was promptly knocked down to second by Perez by 0.132s.
Behind the leading Red Bull duo, Alpine’s Gasly upheld his team’s form from Friday while edging Hamilton in fourth.
Pressing on, Perez and Verstappen both improved, with the latter leapfrogging the Mexican to recoup the top spot with a 0.371s lead. Behind, Hamilton seized P3, but well behind Verstappen.
But a strong effort by Stroll on the softs with 10 minutes to go carried the Canadian to third. But as Aston showed its hand, Alonso would have none of it, the two-time world champion recapturing third. However, the gulf to Red Bull was a massive 0.998s!
Behind the Red Bull/Aston top four, Hamilton rounded off the top five while Charles Leclerc was heading towards a sub-top 10 result when he improved to P6.
McLaren’s pace improved markedly in FP2, with Norris and Piastri clocking in P7 and P8, just ahead of Gasly and Sainz who completed the top-ten.
In P11, Russell led the second half of the field that included both Alfa Romeo, Haas cars, Alpine’s Ocon, the two Williams and the pair of AlphaTauri’s that closed out the field.
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