Spanish GP 2023
JUNE 3, 2023
Practice 3 Report - Verstappen quickest in rain interrupted session
By Luis Vasconcelos
Max Verstappen led Sérgio Pérez for a Red Bull one-two in the last practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix. the session, though, saw light rain hit the track ten minutes into the start of the action and with Logan Sargeant crashing out of the last corner and bringing a red flag out eight minutes into the running, the final order in the time sheets was decided in that very early run.
As the teams were expecting rain to come early, all 20 cars were out on track as soon as the green flag was waved and finding a gap in the traffic was not an easy task. Still, with just two timed laps counting, Verstappen was 0.25s faster than team mate Pérez before the session was interrupted, both being the only ones to break into the 1m13s bracket. The one timed lap Lewis Hamilton managed to complete on slick tyres was quite an encouraging one, as he took half a second off what had been his best mark on Friday, moving the Mercedes driver up to 3rd place, ahead of local heroes Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso.
The two Spaniards, Leclerc and Russell, who followed them, were all bunched up within just 0.113s, showing how tight the battle behind the Red Bull duo currently is and Bottas was a surprise guest in this fight as he was clearly faster than the rest of the midfield, setting the 8th quickest time just 0.007s behind Leclerc!
Yuki Tsunoda and Lando Norris completed the top ten, lapping faster than in FP2 as their cars looked better balanced than on Friday, but they benefitted from the fact Alpine had both Ocon and Gasly complete a short run on Medium tyres before a late switch to Softs, both being caught out by the red flag and ending in P16 (Ocon) and P18 (Gasly) when the session was interrupted. Stroll, who has now reverted to the setup Alonso was using at the end of FP2 continued to struggled but moved up to 13th place, almost half a second behind his team mate.
Logan Sargeant crashed in the last corner immediately after setting the fastest mini-sector on corner entry and with light rain starting to fall the Williams driver was going obviously too quick for the conditions. The impact with the tec-pro barrier was relatively a light one but enough to break part of the floors, so the Williams mechanics will be kept busy to get the car ready for qualifying.
In the 15 minutes after the track reopened there was no action at all, as everyone were saving Intermediate tyres for qualifying but eventually all but Hamilton and the two Alpine drivers did at least one lap on used Soft tyres by the end of the session, as the racing line was largely dry, de Vries nearly matching his early time on what was the fastest lap achieved in the conditions.