Italian GP 2023


Practice 3 Report - Carlos Sainz keeps tifosi's hopes high

Max Verstappen, Italian GP 2023
© Red Bull

By Peter Habicht

Carlos Sainz kept the tifosi’s hopes high as he was, again, the fastest driver on track during the final practice session for the Italian Grand Prix. Again, the gap for second fastest was very small, as Max Verstappen in the Red Bull-Honda was just 0.086s behind the Ferrari driver, the two seeming headed to a battle in qualifying, as the rest of the field was already more than half a second in arrears.

The Spaniard, however, didn’t have the smoothest of sessions as he had a minor collision with Oscar Piastri at the first chicane, closing the door on the McLaren driver while on a slow lap, a move that earned him a black & white flag from the Race Director.

Lewis Hamilton was much happier with his Mercedes W14 in FP3 and making the most of being the only driver from a top team with two sets of new Soft tyres available, was quickly on the pace, leading it before Verstappen and Sainz raised the bar. Russell, who had a used set of Softs for the first run was three places and three tenths of a second behind his team mate, as Mercedes seems to be the third best this weekend.

While Sainz had a clean lap on his way to the fastest time of the weekend, Charles Leclerc was unable to capitalize on the set-up improvements made on his car after going wide in the second Lesmo corner during his first flying lap, on low fuel, with Soft tyres, the Monegasque was on course to match Sainz’s time but had to pit to check his car and climbed only to P4 on his second attempt, on used tyres that had been in a gravel trap earlier.

At Red Bull it was Verstappen’s turn to have a smooth session, while Pérez missed out on the last run, after the team diagnosed a technical issue that couldn’t be fixed before the end of the session.

Their biggest threat is likely to come from Fernando Alonso, who was fifth quickest marginally ahead of Russell, while Stroll was in recovery mode after completely missing out on the first day of practice and did a solid job to end the session in eleventh, lapping half a second slower than the veteran.

Perez had been running higher up in the order, ready to rejoin the last third of the session time remaining, when a power unit leak kept his car in the garage for the rest of the session.

Of the pair of AlphaTauri drivers, rookie Liam Law was twelve and continues to make the most of the opportunities the past two weekends have given him, and was quicker than teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

McLaren's Oscar Piastri was 14th fastest, ahead of Williams' Logan Sargeant, Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas, and McLaren's Lando Norris. Alpine's Esteban Ocon was 18th quickest, followed by Alfa's Guanyu Zhou and teammate Pierre Gasly.

Qualifying begins at 4 pm today.