Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2023

Verstappen stays on top as Sargeant crashes in rain-hit final practice

2023 Spanish Grand Prix third practice

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Max Verstappen continued his run of topping every session in Barcelona as rain affected final practice ahead of qualifying.

The championship leader set the quickest time of the weekend so far with his only push lap early in third practice to go a quarter-of-a-second faster than team mate Sergio Perez. Rain then fell on the circuit, leading to Logan Sargeant crashing his Williams.

Lewis Hamilton was third for Mercedes as drivers’ fastest times were all set in the opening 10 minutes.

With dark clouds hanging ominously in the horizon, there was a big rush out onto the Circuit de Catalunya as the final hour of practice began. All drivers headed out on soft tyres in an effort to perform a quick qualifying simulation run while they could, with Perez going quickest of all with a 1’13.914 ahead of the Mercedes pair of Hamilton and George Russell.

With some drivers reporting light drips of rain, Verstappen completed his first timed lap of the session to go quickest overall with a 1’13.664, exactly a quarter of a second ahead of his team mate. The two Spanish drivers, Carlos Sainz Jnr and Fernando Alonso, then split the Mercedes to move into fourth and fifth, respectively.

The faster final corner then caught out Williams rookie Sargeant, who lost control through the quick right hander and speared through the gravel and into the outside tyre barrier, bringing out the red flags. Sargeant climbed out of the car unharmed and the session was suspended for almost 10 minutes while repairs were made. During the delay, low-intensity rain began to fall around the circuit, with umbrellas going up around the grandstands and spectator embankments.

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When the green light reappeared at the end of the pit lane, none of the 19 remaining drivers appeared interested in going back out on track, given the lack of grip from the damp track compared to the start of the session. Just after the half hour point, McLaren sent out Lando Norris for an exploratory lap on intermediate tyres, but he quickly returned to the garage after a very slow sighting lap.

The track fell silent again with no other teams showing signs of wanting to send out their drivers onto the circuit. After almost 10 minutes without any running, Ferrari opted to scramble both Leclerc and Sainz onto intermediate tyres, with Leclerc almost a second quicker than his team mate on the damp track.

That sparked some late activity as the majority of the field headed out for the final 15 minutes in the now-drying conditions. Verstappen was quickest on the intermediates ahead of Russell’s Mercedes and the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. Stroll ran off the circuit into the gravel at turn five, rejoining the circuit, while Gasly also had a trip over the gravel at turn seven.

Norris switched to the slick tyres and immediately became the quickest man circulating on track, which led to everyone else coming to fit the soft tyres for the final minutes of the session. The track was still far from fully dry, which meant there were no improvements on the timing screen for any drivers. The chequered flag flew at the end of the hour, with Verstappen on top of the order, two-and-a-half tenths ahead of his team mate Perez.

Hamilton’s best time from the early running put him third for Mercedes, with the two local favourites of Sainz and Alonso fourth and fifth. Russell was sixth ahead of Leclerc’s Ferrari. Valtteri Bottas,Yuki Tsunoda and Norris completed the top 10.

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2023 Spanish Grand Prix third practice result

11Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’13.66414
211Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’13.9140.25014
344Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’14.0720.4089
455Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’14.2400.57620
514Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’14.2640.60014
663George RussellMercedesW141’14.2780.61416
716Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’14.3530.68918
877Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’14.3600.69615
922Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’14.6590.99516
104Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’14.6811.01720
1124Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’14.6811.01715
1221Nyck de VriesAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’14.6931.02918
1318Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’14.7561.09214
1427Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’14.9881.32412
1581Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’15.1051.44117
1631Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’15.2661.60215
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’15.5341.87012
1810Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’15.8412.17714
1923Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’15.8512.18713
202Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’16.5292.8655

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Combined practice times

PositionNumberDriverTeamFP1 timeFP2 timeFP3 timeGapLaps
11Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPT1’14.6061’13.9071’13.6641
211Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPT1’15.3741’14.2191’13.9140.2504
344Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’15.8451’14.5491’14.0720.40811
414Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-Mercedes1’15.5471’14.0771’14.2640.4132
527Nico HulkenbergHaas-Ferrari1’16.4611’14.1771’14.9880.5133
655Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’15.7261’14.2741’14.2400.5767
731Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’15.4181’14.2421’15.2660.5785
816Charles LeclercFerrari1’15.6941’14.2461’14.3530.5826
963George RussellMercedes1’15.7531’14.3921’14.2780.6148
1077Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’15.9781’14.4481’14.3600.6969
1110Pierre GaslyAlpine-Renault1’15.5451’14.4571’15.8410.79310
1281Oscar PiastriMcLaren-Mercedes1’16.3531’14.5831’15.1050.91912
1324Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’15.9061’14.5851’14.6810.92113
1422Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT1’15.9151’14.8401’14.6590.99517
154Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’15.7831’14.6941’14.6811.01714
1621Nyck de VriesAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT1’15.5041’14.7851’14.6931.02916
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’15.6891’14.7131’15.5341.04915
1818Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’15.9391’15.0101’14.7561.09218
1923Alexander AlbonWilliams-Mercedes1’16.6301’15.0561’15.8511.39219
202Logan SargeantWilliams-Mercedes1’16.5061’15.4151’16.5291.75120

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2023 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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4 comments on “Verstappen stays on top as Sargeant crashes in rain-hit final practice”

  1. Sargeant’s error was weird, as he slightly turned the steering wheel left before losing the rear when touching the curb.
    A small move, big consequence type of situation.

  2. The midfield is really tight, as usual on a short lap. If qualifying is weather affected, the timing of the lap will be crucial. Hopefully the FIA is strict on any shenanigans in the final sector.

  3. Disappointing we didn’t get an actual wet session. More of an annoying single wet corner. Alonso’s gravel run ruined his qualifying for his home race.

    If Gasly doesn’t get a penalty, I don’t know what he has to do to get one. Now that his suspension threat isn’t looming so close, the stewards will actually give him one.

  4. Just saw Ham interview , he lost 2tenths at turn 10. That’s a real shame, VES Ham front row would have been epic for at least 3-4 laps.

    When Merc gets faster, HAM will be the lead driver by far.

    VES , HAM, SAINZ? Ferrari usually drop of on race day.

Comments are closed.