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Max goes fastest in third free practice Jeddah

Published on 08 March 2024 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen finished fastest in the final free practice session for the Saudi-Arabian Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc finished second at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, with Sergio Pérez setting the third fastest time. George Russell and Lando Norris completed the top five. The session was suspended for a short period after Zhou Guanyu crashed, he got out of the car unharmed.

There was a new driver on the grid today: Ferrari-junior Oliver Bearman is taking over for the rest of the weekend from Carlos Sainz, who suffers from appendicitis and needs surgery. Yesterday, Bearman took pole during qualifying for Formula 2, and today he gets his first chance in Formula 1. The 18-year-old is the third youngest driver in Formula 1 ever, only Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll were younger at their GP debut. The young Brit is also the first to make his debut for Ferrari since Arturo Merzario in 1972.

When the lights go green at the end of the pitlane, it is Valtteri Bottas who comes out on track first. It is quiet on track initially. It is only after twenty minutes that Verstappen comes out. In the meantime, it is Russell who sets the fastest time, a 1:29.862 on soft tyres. But it does not take long before Pérez goes faster and takes three tenths of that time. The first time set by Verstappen puts him in second place. He is two tenths of a second slower than his teammate. Then Leclerc sets the fastest time on medium tyres, a 1:29.206.

Halfway the third session it is Verstappen who is the fastest on track. He sets three purple sectors with a lap time of 1:28.893 on soft tyres and is more than three tenths faster than Leclerc. The top five is then formed by Verstappen, Leclerc, Pérez, Norris and Russell. Logan Sargeant struggles to get back to the pits after hitting the wall in turn 22, damaging his front left suspension. Max goes even faster and sets a 1:28.412. The Dutchman reports over the radio that he hit something at the right front in turn ten. He suspects it was a plastic bottle.

Zhou Guanyu has a much bigger problem: the Chinese driver loses control in turn eight and crashes his car into he tecpro barriers. He gets out of the car unharmed, but his crash causes a red flag. With just under five minutes to go the track is cleared. Immediately it gets busy on track, and only the drivers with a damaged car, Zhou and Sargeant, are not out on track. Verstappen sets a purple and green sector, but loses too much time in the final sector to improve. But he continues to stay in the lead. Leclerc sets the second fastest time, followed by Pérez. Bearman finishes his first practice session in a Ferrari in tenth position. That concludes the third practice session in Jeddah.

Contest GP Jeddah: win a by Max Verstappen signed Racing cap!

Results third free practice Saudi Arabia:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:28.412 12
2Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:28.608+0.196s15
3Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda RBPT1:28.906+0.494s12
4George RussellRUSMercedes1:28.964+0.552s16
5Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:28.971+0.559s10
6Fernando AlonsoALOAston Martin Mercedes1:29.038+0.626s13
7Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:29.127+0.715s13
8Oscar PiastriPIAMcLaren Mercedes1:29.213+0.801s10
9Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:29.268+0.856s18
10Oliver BearmanBEAFerrari1:29.306+0.894s21
11Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:29.485+1.073s11
12Pierre GaslyGASAlpine Renault1:29.546+1.134s12
13Yuki TsunodaTSURB Honda RBPT1:29.572+1.160s17
14Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:29.575+1.163s12
15Nico HulkenbergHULHaas Ferrari1:29.675+1.263s10
16Daniel RicciardoRICRB Honda RBPT1:29.740+1.328s14
17Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:29.808+1.396s12
18Valtteri BottasBOTKick Sauber Ferrari1:30.083+1.671s20
19Zhou GuanyuZHOKick Sauber Ferrari1:30.739+2.327s12
20Logan SargeantSARWilliams Mercedes---2