FP3 report: Max Verstappen pips the Ferraris in final practice

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen puts in a lap. Japan October 2022

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen puts in a lap. Japan October 2022

On a weekend in which he can wrap up the World title, Max Verstappen laid down a marker ahead of qualifying as he beat the Ferraris by three-tenths of a second.

Despite kicking up a bit of dirt on his final hot lap, Verstappen clocked a 1:30.671 to finish ahead of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

After Friday’s rain the drivers were quickly out on track to get the most of the dry running on offer, only blue skies and puffy white clouds overhead.

Verstappen hit the front with a 1:32.050 with Sergio Perez P2 but a full second down on his team-mate.

Keeping with traditional Nicholas Latifi was the first to have a moment, off at the final chicane where he dug out a chuck of the green carpet.

Lando Norris, despite a big lock up through 130R, went third, the McLaren driver running the softs along with his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. Yuki Tsunoda in P5 was the best-placed driver on the mediums after the opening 10 minutes.

The Japanese driver wasn’t overly impressed with Fernando Alonso‘s driving saying the “beep Alonso doesn’t know how to move”.

He wasn’t the only driver commenting on a rival, Carlos Sainz saying “oh thank you Charles” to his own team-mate when he felt the Monégasque had held him up.

The Ferrari team-mates were P8 and P11, Sainz on the soft tyres and Leclerc on the mediums.

On a gusty day, Latifi complained about the wind: “The wind sensitivity right now is among the highest I’ve felt all season.”

Mercedes joined the fight at the front as they swapped to the soft tyres, George Russell up to P2 but still a full second down on Verstappen while Lewis Hamilton jumped up to fourth.

After a slow, and potentially race-fuelled start to the session, Ferrari emptied the tanks, put on the soft tyres, and leapt to the front, Sainz P1 with a 1:30.965, 0.4s up on Leclerc.

Verstappen also wasn’t enjoy the traffic, complaining: “There’s a Ferrari in the middle of the road.” Shortly after he found himself in the middle of a Ferrari sandwich, up to P2 with Perez P4.

Zhou Guanyu, running Alfa Romeo’s new front wing, jumped up to fifth place but dropped places almost immediately as Russell climbed to P4 with Hamilton right behind him.

As the top three, Sainz, Verstappen and Leclerc, all put on a new set of soft tyres, a glimpse of how the pole position battle could pan out was played out in the final minutes of FP3.

Leclerc was the first to finish his lap, up to P2, Sainz wasn’t able to improve and Verstappen went purple in the first sector, second and third to clock a 1:30.671.

That put him 0.3s up on Sainz with Leclerc a further 0.015s down. Alonso was fourth ahead of Perez and Russell.

Mick Schumacher, having lost all of FP2 after crashing in Friday’s opening practice, was P16 with his team-mate Kevin Magnussen P15.


1 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing 1:30.671
2 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.294
3 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.309
4 Fernando ALONSO Alpine +0.649
5 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.843
6 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.859
7 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.918
8 Lando NORRIS McLaren +1.076
9 Esteban OCON Alpine +1.079
10 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +1.167
11 Daniel RICCIARDO McLaren +1.189
12 Alexander ALBON Williams +1.275
13 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +1.300
14 Sebastian VETTEL Aston Martin +1.551
15 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +1.619
16 Mick SCHUMACHER Haas F1 Team +1.695
17 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +1.706
18 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +1.714
19 Nicholas LATIFI Williams +2.197
20 Pierre GASLY AlphaTauri +2.210

Read more: F1 2022 title permutations: How can Max Verstappen win the title in Japan?