Max Verstappen once again topped the timesheet in Suzuka, with the Dutchman leading a Red Bull 1-2 almost three tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Sergio Pérez as Mercedes took best of the rest with George Russel third ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

The session got underway with a small moment of drama with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen sliding through the gravel trap at the hairpin, but the Dane was able to steer back on track and continue.

Moments later, Lewis Hamilton set the early benchmark, posting a lap of 1:30.065s on Soft tyres. Verstappen slotted into P2, two tenths of a second off the Mercedes driver, but on Medium tyres. However, despite logging the fastest final sector, the Dutchman was not happy with feel of his RB20, however, complaining of understeer and also of a vibrating wing mirror.

Behind the top two, Pérez, also on Mediums, moved to third, 0.388 of Hamilton, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took fourth almost half a second down on Hamilton.

As the first third of the session elapsed, McLaren’s Oscar Piastri jumped to third with a 1m30.360s, just as RB’s Daniel Ricciardo spun off at Turn 2 to bring out the yellow flags. The Australian lost the rear of his car exiting the long right-hander that starts the lap but after a trip across the grass he was able to continue slowly back to the pit lane for checks.

Lando Norris in the other McLaren then moved up to third, outpacing his teammate by nearly two-tenths of a second.

The middle third of the session gave way to longer runs as many drivers made up for the time lost in Friday’s wet afternoon session, but with a little over 15 minutes remaining Williams’ Alex Albon emerged on Soft tyres and that prompted a field-wide switch to the red-walled rubber and qualifying simulations.

Albon jumped up to sixth place, going fastest in the final sixth before Russell vaulted to the top of the order with a time of 1:29.918s. His reign at the top was short-lived as Verstappen was close behind on track and he powered past Russell’s benchmark, taking P1 with a lap of 1m29.563s lap. Pérez then secured second place, while Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso impressed by clinching fifth place behind the Mercedes drivers.

Norris took sixth for McLaren at the flag while Carlos Sainz was the lead Ferrari in seventh ahead of Piastri and RB’s Yuki Tsunoda. Leclerc took P10 but voiced his frustration over team radio, lamenting a missed opportunity for a second qualifying lap.

2024 FIA Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:29.563 23 233.413
2 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:29.832 0.269 25 232.714
3 George Russell Mercedes 1:29.918 0.355 24 232.491
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.037 0.474 21 232.184
5 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:30.082 0.519 24 232.068
6 Lando Norris McLaren 1:30.137 0.574 14 231.926
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:30.171 0.608 27 231.839
8 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:30.226 0.663 19 231.698
9 Yuki Tsunoda RB 1:30.341 0.778 21 231.403
10 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:30.383 0.820 25 231.295
11 Alexander Albon Williams 1:30.533 0.970 23 230.912
12 Valtteri Bottas Sauber 1:30.546 0.983 26 230.879
13 Daniel Ricciardo RB 1:30.682 1.119 24 230.533
14 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:31.022 1.459 18 229.671
15 Zhou Guanyu Sauber 1:31.067 1.504 16 229.558
16 Nico Hülkenberg Haas 1:31.139 1.576 21 229.377
17 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:31.141 1.578 19 229.372
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:31.342 1.779 23 228.867
19 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:31.452 1.889 20 228.592
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:31.462 1.899 22 228.567

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