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Liveblog FP3 third free practice 2023 F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

F1 LIVE | FP3 for the 2023 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix

18 March at 12:29
  • GPblog.com

The final free practice session for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is about to get underway. It is the last hour for teams and drivers to prepare for qualifying and race. Don't miss anything from the session with this liveblog.

Liveblog FP3 | Final practice before qualifying and the race

 

Final practice session in Jeddah

FP3 is not the most representative session for the rest of the weekend. The practice takes place earlier in the day when it is hotter at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Qualifying and racing, which do not take place until 20:00 local time, are a lot cooler.

The F1 teams will drive fast runs in preparation for tonight's qualifying, but a one-to-one comparison between FP3 and qualifying speeds cannot yet be made. However, it was clear from yesterday's first two practice sessions that Red Bull are fastest both over one lap and in race pace.

Verstappen Saturday, Perez Sunday

Thus, Max Verstappen drove the fastest time both sessions and was especially fast in Sector 1. Over the long runs, on the other hand, Verstappen fell short of his teammate Sergio Perez. The Mexican drove a faster stint on average on a harder tyre. Verstappen had some problems with downshifting. In this final hour, we will see if those problems have been fixed.

Track guide

 
 
 
 
 
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The Jeddah track is the fastest street circuit that Formula 1 visits. Average speeds in qualifying are over 250 km/h with drivers climbing above 310 km/h on three separate occasions during a single push lap. Over 80% of the lap is spent at full throttle and many of the corners can be taken flat-out given the soft angle.

All three sectors are pretty quick, but the first is slightly slower with tighter turns. The first corner is particularly tight, and then the drivers have to flick the steering wheel in the opposite direction almost immediately to take the second corner. There are elongated chicanes throughout the circuit, this one is one of the tightest. To have better confidence in this sector, drivers might opt for a higher downforce setting on their cars. Going down this route should also help them during the Grand Prix because it would mean the tyres do less sliding and therefore should last longer. 

However, in the following two sectors, having a high downforce is negative. Without DRS, it becomes difficult for the cars to dump drag and they will therefore lose time during the faster areas of the circuit. This means that during the race, when DRS isn't available regularly, a high downforce reduces performances in sectors two and three. The best sector times might allow us to identify which set-up the teams tried in the second free practice session.