Verstappen has the edge in final practice


Ahead of today's sole practice session, the air temperature is 21.5 degrees C, while the track temperature is 30.1 degrees. It is cloudy, but dry and quite windy, with 0% chance of rain according to Race Control.

The teams face a conundrum, for while today is likely to remain dry, tomorrow is expected to be wet or at least changeable, leaving teams wondering which way to go in terms of set-up.

Mercedes set the pace yesterday, a surprise considering the cool conditions, but can the German team maintain the pace today?

The lights go green and understandably there is already a queue at the end of the pitlane, indeed in moments there are 18 drivers on track.

All three compounds are in use with a number of teams, including Ferrari, opting for split strategies.

Of the first wave, Verstappen goes quickest with a 32.050, ahead of Perez, Norris, Tsunoda, Sainz and Albon, the Japanese driver the only one of these on mediums the rest are on softs.

Having had a 'difficult' time yesterday, Latifi's day gets off to a bad start when he takes to the grass at the Chicane.

Schumacher, who was the only driver to actually crash yesterday, is in the spare chassis.

Other than tyre choice, the situation is further confused by the fact that due to the lack of dry running yesterday the teams are running different programmes, some on high fuel others on low fuel.

Ricciardo improves to fourth, ahead of Tsunoda, Gasly, Albon, Sainz, Alonso and Ocon.

Norris consolidates his third position with a 34.246, but remains 2.196s off Verstappen's staggering early pace.

"****, Alonso doesn't know how to move," declares Tsunoda of the most experienced driver to grace the sport.

"Wind gusts appear to be aligning with some of the snaps that we're having," Hamilton is warned.

"I'm struggling with the rears in low speeds," admits Russell who is currently 15th, just one place behind his teammate.

A big lock up for Sainz as he almost trips up over his (very slow) teammate.

After 24 minutes, Albon and the Bulls are the only drivers on track.

"The wind sensitivity is the highest I've experienced all season," says Latifi.

Russell and Bottas head out on fresh softs, as does Bottas.

Hamilton improves to third (33.254), but is 1.204s off the pace, but Russell goes second (32.998).

A 33.445 sees Bottas go fifth.

Bolting on fresh softs, Sainz goes quickest (30.965) and teammate Leclerc (31.388) second, leaving Verstappen 1.085s adrift.

Verstappen complains of a Ferrari being in the "middle of the road".

Hmm... Alonso goes fourth and Ocon fifth... on mediums.

Hamilton is warned that the majority of his lap time delta is "in the straight line", "but we look strong in the low speed corners", he is told.

Vettel improves to twelfth with a 33.551.

From out of nowhere Albon produces a 32.399 to go fourth.

A 31.316 sees Verstappen split the Ferraris but he remains 0.351s off Sainz' pace.

PBs in all three sectors see Perez improve to fourth, albeit 0.972s off the pace.

However, the Bulls are on mediums while the Ferraris are on softs.

Russell improves to fourth with a 31.530 as Hamilton goes fifth (31.589), having been quickest in the twisty opening sector.

The qulafying sims get underway, and among others the Ferrari pair head out on fresh softs.

Ricciardo improves to sixth with a 31.860, however moments later he is demoted by his teammate who stops the clock at 31.747.

Stroll splits the McLarens with a 31.838.

Sainz fails to improve but remains quickest, however Verstappen is back on track on fresh softs.

The Dutchman is quickest in the first sector... and the second, and despite a late wobble he crosses the line at 30.671, 0.294s up on Sainz' best.

Alonso goes fourth with a 31.320 as Alpine seeks to make up for last weekend's misery.

Ocon improves to eighth (31.750).

"I almost crashed into Gasly," says Russell, who has to hit the brakes after encountering a very slow AlphaTauri.

"Brake issues," reports Hamilton.

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

Ricciardo is eleventh, ahead of Albon, Bottas, Vettel, Magnussen, Schumacher, Tsunoda, Zhou, Latifi and Gasly.

So, Verstappen leads the way, but has Ferrari still got something up its sleeve, and might Alpine pull off a shock in qualifying? And what is happening with those AlphaTauris?

Check out our Saturday gallery from Suzuka here.

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 08/10/2022
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