Site logo

Leclerc quickest in final practice


Ahead of today's sole practice session the air temperature is 18 degrees C, while the track temperature is 25 degrees. It is bright but with lots of cloud.

Yesterday's big news was that after crashing in the opening session, with no spare car Williams was forced to withdraw Logan Sargeant and give his car to Alex Albon, a move that has not gone down well with anyone.

Worryingly, even repairing Albon's damaged chassis will leave Williams with just two chassis for Japan, so it is vital that there are no further mishaps this weekend or at Suzuka.

Ferrari appeared to have a slight edge on Red Bull, while Mercedes went the wrong way with an experimental set-up for Lewis Hamilton that left him way off the pace.

While a lot of drivers struggled with cars that appeared to have minds of their own, the fact that the softs were good for several fast laps suggests an exciting qualifying and race.

The lights go green but it is a couple of minutes before anyone heads out, Piastri in the McLaren, followed by his teammate. They are followed by Bottas, the McLarens on hards and the Stake/Kick/Sauber on mediums.

As more drivers head out, most are on the white-banded rubber, though a few opt for mediums.

The Bulls are among the early risers, while, surprisingly, there is no sign of the Mercedes pair.

Perez (medium) posts a benchmark 19.206 as his teammate complains that his brakes are not working. "They're not biting," says the world champion.

Brakes or no brakes, Verstappen subsequently posts an 18.591.

The Bulls continue improving while the majority of their rivals complete installation laps without posting a time. Verstappen gets down to 17.510 and Perez 17.927.

Finally, after 14 minutes of running, Sainz is the third driver to post a time, the Spaniard stopping the clock at 18.444 on the mediums.

As Albon posts a 32.203 to go fourth, Verstappen improves to 17.100 and Perez 17.150.

With 44 minutes remaining, Hamilton heads out on softs. He is followed by his teammate who is also on the red-banded rubber.

Hamilton goes fifth with an 18.660 - on the softs remember - while Russell makes a mistake and aborts his lap.

Leclerc goes fourth with an 18.389, the Monegasque subsequently improving to 17.722.

Hamilton is shocked to hear that he is 1.1s down on Hamilton ad mainly losing out on straight-line speed.

Sainz goes quickest with a 16.791, as Norris goes fifth (18.218) and Russell sixth (18.444). Both are on softs.

Ricciardo goes ninth on the softs, ahead of Magnussen, Bottas, Zhou and Hulkenberg. Teammate Tsunoda goes eighth.

With 35 minutes remaining, Albon, who hasn't driven since yesterday's crash has yet to post a time.

"Where is all that time," asks Hamilton when told of the 1.3 gap to Sainz. "Seven-tenth straight-line," he is told.

A big snap for Leclerc in the final corner, causing him to fail to improve.

"I'm getting too much hair in my helmet, we need to change it," says Hulkenberg.

On the mediums, Albon posts an 18.618 to go 13th.

Though the majority of the field are on softs, the top four places are held by medium runners.

Hulkenberg improves to eighth with an 18.010, but is demoted when Alonso posts a 17.860 to go sixth.

Hamilton improves to fifth with a 17.554, 0.763s off the pace, his car still looking a real handful.

Bottas is told to focus on earlier braking and earlier braking release.

Russell goes fifth with a 17.452 as Sainz complains about an Aston Martin (Stroll) going slowly on the racing line.

Bottas improves to 17th with an 18.772. on the softs.

There is a brief lull before the qualifying sims... then Albon heads out on fresh softs. A 17.759 sees the youngster go seventh, but he is subsequently leapfrogged by Piastri (17.559).

"The rears are totally gone, totally gone after Turn 9," reports Albon.

The Ferrari pair stick with the mediums, as Piastri goes quickest in S1. The Australian subsequently goes third overall with a 17.087, 0.296s off Sainz' best.

While there are lots of PBs in the opening sector, the majority of drivers subsequently lose pace.

Alonso goes eighth with a 17.710.

"It is a surprise to see everyone improving on the second timed lap," RB's Laurent Mekies tells Sky Sports, "but by the time we come to qualifying, I expect to see everyone setting the time on their first lap.

"At the moment we have one set of new mediums and two new sets of hards that we intend to carry on to the race. In our group [qualifying] will hinge on a few hundredths, so we expect to run two sets of softs in Q1."

"I always find Lewis at some point on the track, every time," complains Russell.

Verstappen switches to the softs as Norris improves to seventh with a 17.490.

PBs in all three sectors see Hamilton go second with a 16.806, just 0.015s off Sainz' pace.

Bottas goes twelfth and Hulkenberg thirteenth.

Plagued by traffic, Verstappen completes two preparation laps before aborting his flying lap.

Russell goes third with a 17.012 as Ricciardo improves to 12th with a 17.963.

Bottas improves to tenth (17.752).

A 17.673 sees Tsunoda go eighth on his second flying lap.

On fresh softs, Sainz goes quickest in S1, but fails to improve his overall time.

Moments later, Hamilton narrowly fails to leapfrog the Spaniard on his third flying lap on that particular set of softs.

Verstappen goes quickest in S2 as Russell goes purple in the opening sector.

The world champion goes fourth with a 17.028, while Russell consolidates third with a 16.886.

A 16.824 sees Leclerc go third, the Top Four covered by just 0.095s.

"I don't know why in the high-speed I can't go faster compare to the medium," complains Verstappen, "the tyres move around too much."

Stroll improves to eighth with a 17.341.

As Ocon goes 15th with a 17.920, his teammate fails to improve on 19th.

A 17.014 sees Perez improve to 5th, leapfrogging his teammate in the process.

Sainz' 16.791 - posted on the mediums - remains the benchmark as the session comes to an end.

At which point Verstappen bangs in a 16.734 to go quickest by 0.057s. Moments later Leclerc responds with a 16.714.

Leclerc is quickest, ahead of Verstappen, Sainz, Hamilton, Russell, Alonso, Perez, Piastri, Stroll and Norris.

Tsunoda is eleventh, ahead of Bottas, Albon, Zhou, Ocon, Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Ricciardo and Gasly.

Clearly tyres are going to be a big issue both this afternoon and tomorrow, and with an eye on Sainz' pace one has to wonder if anyone will take the gamble and use the yellow-banded rubber in Q3.

The Top Eight is covered by just 0.373 thereby suggesting the potential for a thrilling qualifying session.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Melbourne here.


more news >



galleries >

  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images
  • latest F1/Formula 1 images


or Register for a Pitpass ID to have your say

Please note that all posts are reactively moderated and must adhere to the site's posting rules and etiquette.

Post your comment



No comments posted as yet, would you like to be the first to have your say?

Share this page


Copyright © Pitpass 2002 - 2024. All rights reserved.

about us  |  advertise  |  contact  |  privacy & security  |  rss  |  terms