Formula 1

What happened in the final F1 practice session of 2023

by Jack Cozens
2 min read

George Russell headed a final practice session that still offered precious few hints about the real competitive order at the 2023 Formula 1 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Mercedes driver Russell was a constant at the top of the order throughout FP3 at the Yas Marina circuit and set a best time of 1m24.418s in what was effectively the first indicative running of the weekend considering 10 rookies ran in FP1 and second practice was severely disrupted.

But with drivers from eight of the 10 teams ending up inside the top 10, and just 1.295s covering the field, there are still plenty of unknowns heading into qualifying - particularly with some notable F1 2023 big hitters outside of the headline positions.

McLaren duo Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri were second and third, with Norris a mere 0.095 seconds off Russell's benchmark.

His best lap included a lurid slide on the exit of the final corner as he attempted to carry as much speed as possible on turn-in to the right-hander.

Williams driver Alex Albon was fourth fastest and half a second off the top spot, with FP2 pacesetter Charles Leclerc fifth for Ferrari ahead of Max Verstappen.

As was the case on Friday, the world champion was not entirely happy with the behaviour of his RB19 and bailed out of a run late on following a moment exiting the Turn 5 hairpin, having complained his car was "bottoming, jumping" as it had in FP2.

He pitted for anti-roll bar adjustments after that and though he improved his time he still ended the session 0.735s off the pace.

Esteban Ocon (Alpine), the second Williams of Logan Sargeant, Yuki Tsunoda's AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu completed the top 10 - with Sergio Perez 11th and Russell's Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton 11th and 12th.

Carlos Sainz - taking part in FP3 following repairs to his SF-23 after his sizeable incident in FP2 - was slowest of all.

Practice 3 Result

PosNameCarBest TimeGap Leader
1George RussellMercedes1m24.418s
2Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1m24.513s+0.095s
3Oscar PiastriMcLaren-Mercedes1m24.810s+0.392s
4Alex AlbonWilliams-Mercedes1m24.929s+0.511s
5Charles LeclercFerrari1m25.099s+0.681s
6Max VerstappenRed Bull1m25.153s+0.735s
7Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1m25.194s+0.776s
8Logan SargeantWilliams-Mercedes1m25.205s+0.787s
9Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT1m25.222s+0.804s
10Guanyu ZhouAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1m25.258s+0.840s
11Sergio PĂ©rezRed Bull1m25.259s+0.841s
12Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m25.292s+0.874s
13Pierre GaslyAlpine-Renault1m25.303s+0.885s
14Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-Mercedes1m25.343s+0.925s
15Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1m25.405s+0.987s
16Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1m25.420s+1.002s
17Nico HĂĽlkenbergHaas-Ferrari1m25.584s+1.166s
18Daniel RicciardoAlphaTauri-Honda RBPT1m25.597s+1.179s
19Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1m25.652s+1.234s
20Carlos SainzFerrari1m25.713s+1.295s
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