Max fastest in rain affected third free practice in Spain
Published on 03 June 2023 by Kees-Jan Koster
Max Verstappen set the fastest time in the third free practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix. The track was still dry during the first couple of minutes of the final free practice session in Barcelona, that is when Max set his fastest time, a 1:13.664, followed by Sergio Perez, his teammate at Oracle Red Bull Racing. The session was red flagged ten minutes after the start following a crash of Logan Sargeant. In the meantime, it started to rain, and after the session was restarted nobody could get near the time of Verstappen on the now wet track. So Verstappen finished all three practice sessions as fastest.
While it is still dry at the start of the third and final free practice session, there are grey clouds hanging over the 4.657-kilometre-long Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Because of the threat of rain many drivers come out on track immediately after the lights go green. Max as well, he comes out on soft tyres and immediately sets the fastest time in his first flying lap, a 1:13.664. Teammate Sergio Perez follows a quarter of a second slower, followed by Lewis Hamilton more than four tenths of a second behind.
The first drops of rain start to come down when the session is only eight minutes underway. Logan Sergeant loses control over his Williams in the final corner and slides into the gravel. The American touches the tyre barriers and is stuck in the gravel. The session is red flagged. While the session is stopped the rain gets heavier. Ten minutes later the lights go green again, but the drivers stay in the pits waiting for better circumstances.
With less than half an hour left, it is Lando Norris who comes out first, on intermediates. But after one lap the McLaren drivers goes back into the pits. With twenty minutes to go, both Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc enter the wet track on intermediates. Max, and many other drivers, follow their example. The lap times are more than ten seconds slower than the fastest time set by Verstappen when the track was still dry.
The track is drying and Lando Norris is the first to swap to slick tyres. These tyres enable him to go a lot faster than on intermediates, but he is still far from the time set by Max. Max changes to soft tyres during the final minutes of the session, but he also is not able to improve his time. As usual the drivers finish the session by doing a practice start.
Max Verstappen finishes the third free practice session as fastest, doing thirteen laps, followed by Perez and Hamilton. Home driver Carlos Sainz finishes fourth, with fellow countryman Fernando Alonso behind him in P5.
|1||Max Verstappen||VER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:13.664||13|
|2||Sergio Perez||PER||Red Bull Racing Honda RBPT||1:13.914||+0.250s||13|
|5||Fernando Alonso||ALO||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:14.264||+0.600s||13|
|8||Valtteri Bottas||BOT||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:14.360||+0.696s||14|
|9||Yuki Tsunoda||TSU||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:14.659||+0.995s||15|
|10||Lando Norris||NOR||McLaren Mercedes||1:14.681||+1.017s||19|
|11||Zhou Guanyu||ZHO||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:14.681||+1.017s||14|
|12||Nyck De Vries||DEV||AlphaTauri Honda RBPT||1:14.693||+1.029s||17|
|13||Lance Stroll||STR||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:14.756||+1.092s||14|
|14||Nico Hulkenberg||HUL||Haas Ferrari||1:14.988||+1.324s||11|
|15||Oscar Piastri||PIA||McLaren Mercedes||1:15.105||+1.441s||16|
|16||Esteban Ocon||OCO||Alpine Renault||1:15.266||+1.602s||14|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||MAG||Haas Ferrari||1:15.534||+1.870s||11|
|18||Pierre Gasly||GAS||Alpine Renault||1:15.841||+2.177s||13|
|19||Alexander Albon||ALB||Williams Mercedes||1:15.851||+2.187s||13|
|20||Logan Sargeant||SAR||Williams Mercedes||1:16.529||+2.865s||5|