George Russell, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2023

Russell sets fastest lap of weekend as he leads McLarens in final practice

Formula 1

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George Russell set the fastest time for the second time as practice came to an end at Yas Marina ahead of qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Russell set the pace with a 1’24.148, less than a tenth of a second ahead of Lando Norris and his McLaren team mate Oscar Piastri. Max Verstappen was only sixth-fastest, just behind Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

Conditions were typically clear and warm for the start of the final hour of practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend. Despite the relative lack of running for many drivers in a disrupted second practice, there was not a rush of cars out onto the circuit as the session began.

Lewis Hamilton was the first driver to complete a flying lap in the session on the soft compound tyre, posting a 1’26.612. Carlos Sainz Jnr headed out on the medium tyres and beat Hamilton’s early benchmark by just three-thousandths of a second, before Sergio Perez put Red Bull on top of the times for the first time in the session with a 1’25.417, his first lap of the day on soft tyres.

Norris chose the soft tyres for his first run of the day, going just under a second slower than Perez’s early best to go second, with Lance Stroll moving ahead of Hamilton into third for Aston Martin. Eventually after 15 minutes had elapsed, Max Verstappen took to the track for the first time on the soft tyres. His first push lap was slower than both his team mate Perez and George Russell’s Mercedes, which had moved to the top of the times with a 1’25.163.

There was a near-miss outside the McLaren garage when Norris pulled into his pit box at the same moment that team mate Oscar Piastri was released from the garage. No harm was done, but Norris suggested to his team that it was “probably not the best idea to do that” over team radio.

The two Ferrari drivers headed out on used mediums to complete a long run on high fuel, while Verstappen remained on the soft tyres and improved to second-quickest, but half a second slower than Russell. Ferrari and Hamilton in the Mercedes continued to focus more on longer runs, but the Alpines and Williams improved to move into the top five before the McLarens of Norris and Piastri went second and third, respectively, on the soft tyres.

In the final 10 minutes of the session, Hamilton and the two Ferraris headed out on fresh soft tyres, but while Leclerc improved into fifth, Sainz remained down in 19th, 1.2 seconds off Russell’s improved best of a 1’24.418. No further improvements followed towards the top of the times, with the session ending to confirm Russell as fastest of all heading into qualifying.

The two McLarens of Norris and Piastri sat second and third, with Alexander Albon fourth for Williams. Leclerc ended the session in fifth, just ahead of Verstappen, with Esteban Ocon seventh and Logan Sargeant eighth. Yuki Tsunoda was ninth for AlphaTauri with Zhou Guanyu in tenth just ahead of Sergio Perez and Hamilton.

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2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix third practice result

163George RussellMercedesW141’24.41814
24Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’24.5130.09516
381Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’24.8100.39216
423Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’24.9290.51117
516Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’25.0990.68127
61Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’25.1530.73519
731Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’25.1940.77618
82Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’25.2050.78717
922Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’25.2220.80415
1024Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’25.2580.84023
1111Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’25.2590.84121
1244Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’25.2920.87426
1310Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’25.3030.88518
1414Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’25.3430.92525
1518Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’25.4050.98724
1677Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’25.4201.00216
1727Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’25.5841.16622
183Daniel RicciardoAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’25.5971.17915
1920Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’25.6521.23420
2055Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’25.7131.29529

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2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix combined practice times

P.#DriverTeamFP1 timeFP2 timeFP3 timeGapLaps
163George RussellMercedes1’26.0721’25.1221’24.41857
24Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’24.8521’24.5130.09534
316Charles LeclercFerrari1’24.8091’25.0990.39143
481Oscar PiastriMcLaren-Mercedes1’26.6651’25.3611’24.8100.39259
523Alexander AlbonWilliams-Mercedes1’26.0811’24.9290.51137
61Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPT1’24.9821’25.1530.56436
777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’26.4531’25.0241’25.4200.60653
811Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPT1’25.1121’25.2590.69438
931Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’25.5661’25.1940.77635
102Logan SargeantWilliams-Mercedes1’26.7421’26.6591’25.2050.78761
1122Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT1’26.7251’25.6691’25.2220.80459
1224Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’25.2231’25.2580.80541
1344Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’25.3151’25.2920.87442
1410Pierre GaslyAlpine-Renault1’26.7201’25.3211’25.3030.88559
1514Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-Mercedes1’25.3971’25.3430.92542
1618Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’26.6311’25.4921’25.4050.98762
173Daniel RicciardoAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT1’26.4331’25.4671’25.5971.04957
1827Nico HulkenbergHaas-Ferrari1’27.1471’25.5841.16629
1920Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’27.4621’26.4131’25.6521.23464
2055Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’26.6761’26.7071’25.7131.29557
2134Felipe DrugovichAston Martin-Mercedes1’26.3601.94226
2239Robert ShwartzmanFerrari1’26.7032.28525
2342Frederik VestiMercedes1’26.8152.39727
2461Jack DoohanAlpine-Renault1’26.8652.44723
2598Theo PourchaireAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’27.0932.67520
2629Pato O’WardMcLaren-Mercedes1’27.1142.69623
2736Jake DennisRed Bull-Honda RBPT1’27.2082.79024
2837Isack HadjarRed Bull-Honda RBPT1’27.2442.82620
2945Zak O’SullivanWilliams-Mercedes1’27.4603.04228
3050Oliver BearmanHaas-Ferrari1’27.5693.15124

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2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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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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9 comments on “Russell sets fastest lap of weekend as he leads McLarens in final practice”

  1. Incredible pace from Russell so far. Hamilton seems completely lost and will be scrambling for Q3 yet again. For the second race in a row you’d think Hamilton was a rookie in that car. His 0.8 of your team mate is tragic.

    1. The 72 point difference in the championship begs to differ.

      1. What’s the championship stands got to do with this weekend? Genuinely confused by that reply. My guess is you need to cling onto any positive you can because Hamilton is being hammered by his team mate recently. Get ready for another Q2 or even Q1 exit today! While Russell fights for pole.

        1. ones safe in p3, the other sitting in 8th hoping CL gets 0 points and he wins so he can atleast make 7th :D

          1. “Safe” what does that even mean? No one cares if you don’t win. Can you remember where everyone finished last season?

            Russell looks set in pace for a pole and possible win this weekend while Hamilton isn’t even in the top 10. What’s with that?

          2. @Ben…

            It’s practice, you can never, ever call a pole position from practice, and if you are, you’d have about as much chance of being right as rolling a dice. (possible, but still unlikely)

    2. The real irony is Hamilton has a better chance at finishing in front of this teammate, unless Mercedes gimp his pit stops like last weekend. The car is half baked, Russell was the only one with any real input yesterday. Not surprising.

  2. Besides Red Bull (particularly Verstappen) just being leagues ahead, this season has been incredible for the different performance of teams between circuits.

    1. hes not, hes been pushing other cars off the track lately, that means hes desperate to win, which means RBR are not that far ahead in one lap pace.

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