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Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix 2024

Verstappen quickest in FP3 as Ferrari hide true performance

Max Verstappen set the pace ahead of qualifying at the 2024 F1 Japanese Grand Prix

Verstappen Japan FP3
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen was the driver to beat in third practice at the Japanese Grand Prix, in what was the second Red Bull one-two of the weekend.

The reigning world champion set a 1:29.563, to lead Sergio Perez by just over two-tenths of a second.

Mercedes looked impressive, with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton ending FP3 in fourth and fifth, whilst Fernando Alonso completed the top five.

Result Free practice 3 - Japanese

# Driver Team Time Tyre
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Unsurprisingly, the majority of the drivers immediately exited the pits when third practice got underway, as a result of effectively losing FP2 due to the mixed conditions.

This included, Logan Sargeant, whose car has been successfully repaired by Williams following his crash yesterday. Drivers were clearly pushing to make up for the lost time, with Kevin Magnussen having spun at Turn 11 on his first lap.

Only a brief yellow flag was required, as the Dane quickly got back on his way. "My mirrors are vibrating quite a bit," reported Verstappen in the opening minutes of FP3, although this did not impact his extraordinary pace. However, he was spotted holding his wing mirror along the back straight.

Sergio Perez had a difficult start to the session, and complained to Red Bull that he was "struggling a lot in the low speed". Mixed strategies were seen in FP3, as some teams opted to set hot laps from the get-go, whilst others started with long runs.

Just over 15 minutes into the session and Daniel Ricciardo span on the exit of Turn 2, resulting in a second brief yellow flag. Hamilton sat at the top halfway through the session courtesy of his first lap, which was set on the soft compound.

It was merely a waiting game for the quali runs at the end of the session, as long-run pace was seemingly the main focus for the bulk of the first session of the day. With 12 minutes remaining, the soft tyres were suddenly seen everywhere, as attention turned to one-lap pace.

Verstappen immediately hit the top of the timesheets on his first serious hot lap but reported that the ride on his RB20 had become "a lot worse". Ferrari's first hot laps were very disappointing, raising immediate suggestions that they are hiding their true performance for qualifying.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc ended up in a disappointing seventh and P10, although better is expected later on. Verstappen's leading time remained untouched in the closing seconds, whilst his team-mate was close behind.

Mercedes are looking much stronger at Suzuka and were second in the pecking order in FP3, whilst Alonso completed the top five. His team-mate, on the other hand, was a poor P18.

McLaren were off the pace, with Lando Norris having been over five-tenths of a second slower than Verstappen in sixth, with Oscar Piastri a further tenth of a second adrift in eighth. Yuki Tsunoda was ninth.

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