Max Verstappen laid down the gauntlet ahead of qualifying at the F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix by setting a blistering pace to complete a practice clean sweep in Jeddah.
The double world champion looks the clear favourite heading into qualifying under the lights in Jeddah following a show of total dominance across the three hour-long practice sessions.
Verstappen was 0.613s faster than Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez, while Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was the nearest non-Red Bull challenger in third, nearly a full second off the pace.
Lance Stroll was fourth in the other Aston Martin, ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who was the fastest Mercedes driver in fifth but a second adrift of Verstappen.
Ferrari left it late to conduct their qualifying simulation runs on soft tyres but Charles Leclerc was a whopping 1.1s down in sixth, with Carlos Sainz only 10th.
Their lack of pace suggests Ferrari are running their engines conservatively amid continued reliability concerns, with Leclerc set to serve a 10-place grid drop for Sunday’s race after already exceeding his season’s allocation of control electronic components.
Behind Leclerc came the two McLarens of Lando Norris and rookie teammate Oscar Piastri, while Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Sainz completed the rest of the top-10 order.
A power unit issue meant Nyck de Vries was unable to take part in FP3 while his AlphaTauri team changed the engine in his car.
Keyword: F1 Saudi Arabian GP: Max Verstappen surges clear as Ferrari struggle for pace in final practice