Max Verstappen confirmed the trend seen on Friday by setting the fastest time in the third and final free practice session of the Miami Grand Prix. The Dutchman relegated Charles Leclerc and Sergio Pérez a good distance away when the Alpine riders showed up.
Max Verstappen set the tone. A few hours before the qualifying session for the Miami Grand Prix, thehe double world champion has confirmed that he will have to be counted on this weekend. After a lackluster weekend in Azerbaijan, the Dutch driver was the fastest on Friday and did it again during the third free practice session on the circuit laid out around the Hard Rock Stadium. Added to this is a very clear difference vis-à-vis his first pursuer. With his best lap in 1’27”535, four tenths of a second less than his time the day before, Max Verstappen pushed Charles Leclerc back four tenths of a second.
The Monegasque does not seem able to challenge the Dutchman’s favorite status for qualifying. Sergio Pérez, after a far from obvious Friday, was able to climb to third place but, for him too, the addition is salty. The Mexican has returned more than half a second to his teammate and will have to find solutions if he does not want to see the championship gap increase again when leaving Florida. To subscribers absent in Baku, Carlos Sainz Jr confirmed to be in better moods in Miami.
Alpine in the right wagon
The Spaniard set the fourth time with a delay limited to 75 thousandths compared to Sergio Pérez. But the pleasant surprise of this last hour of driving are the two Alpines. After a first day that gave a good indication, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly raised their voices when putting on the soft tires to settle respectively in fifth and sixth place, with 21 small thousandths of a second to separate them in the standings. As for Mercedes, the double in the first free practice session seems more and more to have been a flash in the pan.
Indeed, George Russell has painfully climbed into the Top 10 but more than a second behind Max Verstappen and with a margin of one thousandth over Kevin Magnussen who follows him in the hierarchy. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, is sandwiched by the Aston Martins of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll in… thirteenth row. Both from the side of the Silver Arrows and the Silverstone-based team, a reaction is expected during qualifying. A decisive session that could have a surprise guest. Indeed, the weather looks threatening in Miami and rain cannot be ruled out.
FORMULA 1 / MIAMI GRAND PRIX
Classification of free practice 3 – Saturday May 6, 2023
1- Max Verstappen (PBS/Red Bull Racing) en 1’27’’535
2- Charles Leclerc (MCO / Ferrari) at 0”406
3- Sergio Pérez (MEX/Red Bull Racing) at 0”515
4- Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Ferrari) at 0”590
5- Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine) at 0”872
6- Pierre Gasly (FRA / Alpine) at 0”893
7- Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Alfa Romeo) at 0”921
8- Nico Hülkenberg (ALL/Haas) at 0”962
9- Alex Albon (THA / Williams) at 1”026
10- George Russell (GBR/Mercedes) at 1”071