Japanese Grand Prix – Free 3: Max Verstappen (Red Bull) advantage 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 weather in Suzuka with a best time during free practice 3 of the Japanese Grand Prix, the last qualifying session that will follow, at 15 local (8 in France).

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His streak of five, abruptly interrupted last week in Singapore, the RB18 No. 1 driver restored order in the group by dominating the session by an hour, with a time of 1’30 “671, on tires” soft “. “They are fast everywhere and in all weather conditions, rain, dry … But I think we are too”, Carlos Sainz had blown on Friday. The Scuderia’s Spaniard imposed himself as the Batavian’s main rival but failed to approach him within 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 kept his course with the Alpine setting the fourth time, at 0 “649, confirming the qualities of the A522 on this demanding circuit for the holding of The 42. – one-year paddock veteran, holder of the Formula 1 participation record (350), left Sergio Pérez at almost 0.2 but the Mexican can make the excuse of the traffic.

Mercedes is back to reality after the “unrepresentative” double on Friday warned the Grays. The addition, in fact, is higher than expected: George Russell finished sixth at 0 “843 and Lewis Hamilton at 0” 859. This will not allow them, unless there are significant changes to the settings, to join the fight for a second or third row seat.

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

In the second part of the chronometer the excellent 12th time of Alexander Albon (Williams) and the disappointing positions of the AlphaTauri with Honda engines should be noted. Local Yuki Tsunoda was only able to set the 17th fastest time and Pierre Gasly, who will race for the Alpine in 2023, set the 20th fastest time at 2’210.

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