Max Verstappen demoralises F1 grid in final practice session ahead of Saudi qualifying

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  • Max Verstappen set the pace in the third practice session for this weekend's race.
  • The Red Bull driver was 0.6 seconds clear of his teammate, but a second clear of Fernando Alonso.
  • Ferrari's struggles around Jeddah continues.

Red Bull Racing had its name written all over the third and final practice session for this weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Teammates Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez traded punches at the top of the timesheet, with the defending champion ultimately putting daylight between him and the rest of the grid.

Up until the final 20 minutes of the session, Verstappen was out on track on the Hard tyre while the rest of the grid, including Perez, was on the Softs. But despite being on the slowest dry-weather tyre available this weekend, only Perez took the fight to the Dutchman.

When Verstappen eventually switched to the Softs, he was 0.613 seconds quicker than Perez, setting a 1:28.485 by the session's end. And perhaps ominously for qualifying and Sunday's race, Verstappen wasn't driving at his car's full potential. There is more performance in the bag!

Aston is in the mix

The third practice session normally gives initial insights into how drivers could perform in qualifying. And while Red Bull is in a league of its own, Aston Martin is clearly the next-best team, with Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll taking positions three and four.

Lewis Hamilton went fifth quickest at the end of the session, but his Mercedes was still more than a second slower than the leading Red Bull.

Ferrari's struggles continued throughout the session as Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc only managed to go sixth and 10th quickest. McLaren also had a better outing, with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri finding themselves in seventh and eighth.

Qualifying should be really close, given that positions 3 to 18 were separated by a mere second.

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