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Max tops the board after final free practice in Australia

Published on 01 April 2023 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen was the quickest during the final free practice for the Australian Grand Prix. He was with a 1:17.565 well over a tenth-and-a-half faster than Fernando Alonso in second. Second runner up was Esteban Ocon, followed by George Russell. Pierre Gasly rounded out the top five. Max’ team mate at Oracle Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez, had an off day. He wasn’t happy with the balance of his RB19 and locked up numerous times. He came in sixth fastest.

With an ambient temperature of about 14 degrees and a 22 degrees track temperature, it’s quite chilly in Melbourne. As oppose to the second free practice, this session gets underway in dry conditions. When it’s lights out, we see Max head out on track very quickly. He has strapped on the mediums on his RB19. His first timed lap is a 1:19.664. Sainz and Leclerc are both respectively six and four tenths faster on the soft compound and demote Verstappen to third. Then Max and the Ferraris take turns for the top spot. After fifteen minutes we see a Spanish one-two on the time sheet: Alonso slots in two tenths behind of Sainz.

After twenty minutes we see Perez on the asphalt again, he is the last man on track. The team spent some time working on his car. The Mexican is, just like yesterday, very unlucky with the traffic on track. During his first timed fast lap he is hindered by Nico Hulkenberg, who appears not to have seen the Red Bull-driver. Both Alpines have, by now, managed to get themselves in the top five. Halfway the session the order is as follows: Sainz, Alonso, Gasly, Leclerc and Ocon. Verstappen is sixth fastest. Max did his time on the mediums while the entire top five ran on the soft compound tyre.

Kevin Magnussen takes a short trip on the grass in the third sector but is able to continue on. Then the session is red flagged due to a component on track. It becomes clear that it came off of Nyck de Vries’ AlphaTauri. After a few minutes, the marshals have taken care of the issue on track and the session is resumed. Perez quickly heads out and has a free lap, but he locks up and ends up in the gravel trap. One lap later, he locks up again at the same spot, and is forced to abort his lap once more. On the radio he reports to the team that he is not happy with the balance of the car.

With thirteen minutes left on the clock, Zhou Guanyu loses control of his Alfa Romeo after the first corner. He spins and lightly brushes the wall and seems to have a lucky escape. Ten minutes before the end of the session, Max tops the board on the softs with a 1:17.565. During the final minutes of the session it starts to drizzle. When the time is up, the top five is as follows: Verstappen, Alonso, Ocon, Russell and Gasly. The day has gotten from bad to worse for Perez: he is too late to do a practice start and is pushed back into the pitbox by his team. Quite odd is it when Sainz hits the gravel trap, on his way back to the pits, after his practice start. With all this, the final free practice in Melbourne Australia comes to an end.

Contest Australian GP: win a by Max Verstappen signed World Champion 2022 cap!

Results third free practice Australia:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:17.565 24
2Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:17.727+0.162s26
3Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:17.938+0.373s23
4George RussellRUSMercedes1:17.955+0.390s23
5Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:18.094+0.529s23
6Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:18.123+0.558s18
7Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:18.127+0.562s29
8Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:18.138+0.573s25
9Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:18.198+0.633s22
10Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:18.330+0.765s20
11Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:18.410+0.845s24
12Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:18.553+0.988s21
13Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:18.691+1.126s28
14Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:18.713+1.148s21
15Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:18.809+1.244s24
16Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:18.901+1.336s22
17Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes1:18.947+1.382s20
18Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:19.056+1.491s26
19Nyck De VriesDEVAlphaTauri Honda RBPT1:19.092+1.527s23
20Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:19.146+1.581s12