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Mexico City GP

Mexico City Grand Prix: F1 Free Practice 3 results

What happened in the final session before Qualifying?

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Max Verstappen topped the timesheet in the third free practice session of the Mexico City Grand Prix.

Verstappen in Mexico
Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 27, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Song Haiyuan/MB Media/Getty Images)
Slow start in Mexico

The third and final practice session got off to a slow start, with many drivers milling around in the garages before getting into their cars.

Valtteri Bottas, Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll were first out, but only Bottas set a time – a 1:20.740 on the hard compound tyres.

By comparison, Verstappen’s fastest time in yesterday’s first practice was 1:19.718 on the soft tyres.

Alongside the Aston Martins, the Ferraris were also on track in Mexico. Sainz and Leclerc both set fast laps on soft tyres – first conclusions for qualifying? Leclerc finished his lap with a 1:19.283, while Sainz crossed the finish line +0.166 seconds slower.

Gradually, more drivers dared to take to the track – Tsunoda set a 1:20.520. Tsunoda will start the race in Mexico from the back of the grid.

Lewis Hamilton unceremoniously set the next fast time, a 1:19.214, with teammate George Russell setting a quicker time shortly afterwards with a 1:18.644.

Pierre Gasly went a little too far out onto a kerb on the entry to the stadium section of the track and spun. However, the French driver did not hit it, and the short yellow flags were quickly lifted.

Tricky conditions

You can tell it’s particularly hot on the track – the drivers are complaining about little grip, with a light wind that changes constantly blowing across the track.

The rest of the field, still sitting in the pits, waited patiently for the moment when the other drivers would generate more traction on the track so they could switch to softer tyres and do qualifying simulation laps.

Sergio Perez, the hometown hero, set a 1:19.372 and briefly ended up in 4th place, but Max Verstappen set his first fast lap and ended up just behind George Russell in P2 with a 1:18.717.

Already, with half an hour left on the clock, the fastest times of yesterday were topped.

Daniel Ricciardo also did his first laps of the day, clocking a 1:19.235 on the medium compound tyres – putting him in fourth place.

Max Verstappen set the fastest lap shortly afterwards with a 1:18.429, Perez was +0.358 seconds behind.

Further down the timesheets, both Aston Martins were battling for good laps. Stroll’s fastest time was a 1:20.027, while Alonso’s was a 1:20.274. The AMR23, fast at the start of the season, also tended to fall further back in this session.

Kevin Magnussen, who reported problems with his Haas in the meantime, had further bad luck:

“Unfortunately, that left rear wheel is damaged and cannot be used, so he only has one FP3 set to use. He’ll remain in the garage a little longer before putting on the new set towards the end of the session.”

Magnussen, therefore, stayed in the pits a little longer.

With just under 20 minutes left on the clock, the teams ran different programmes. Some did some more long runs, others more fast qualifying laps.

Final minutes

Entering the final 20 minutes, both Williams set fast laps – Albon a 1:17.957, teammate Sargeant a 1:18.718, putting Albon ahead of Max Verstappen in first place on the timesheets.

Piastri has clocked the fastest time in the first sector, setting a purple sector. Bottas has moved into third place, and Norris is in fourth. Piastri made a charge, but ended up in P10 due to a notably slow last sector. Ricciardo was in ninth place and on a fast lap, and Hamilton in P11 was also pushing for a quick time – putting him in P7.

Verstappen set another fastest time, a 1:17.887, even though he complained about heavy traffic. Perez set a slightly slower lap with +0.139 seconds.

Both Ferraris ended up in the middle of traffic, Leclerc had to abort his lap due to Magnussen and Sainz due to Stroll – the Spanish driver even spun. He complains:

“This guy, honestly, this guy. If that’s not a penalty… You cannot do that in practice.”

Traffic will also play a role in qualifying later.

Final results

Feature Image Credit: Rudy Carezzevoli via Getty Images

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