Max Verstappen comfortably fastest in Miami FP3

MiamiGP, Max Verstappen, Red Bull RB19
MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 05: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 otn during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami at Miami International Autodrome on May 05, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen topped the timing sheets with his RB19 in final practice, sending a strong message ahead of qualifying in Miami.

The Dutchman was over 4 tenths clear of his nearest competitor, Charles Leclerc, in FP3 – setting consistently strong laps throughout the session.

Like the rest of the field, Verstappen spent the majority of the session on the soft compound with a focused on low-fuel runs.

With qualifying only a few hours away, Red Bull seem as comfortable at the front of the field as they have been in the opening four rounds.

Ferrari have been pleased with the early data collected with their new floor, although the Italian squad does not expect to close the gap to Red Bull immediately.

Leclerc’s P2 and Carlos Sainz’s P4 in FP3 suggest the Scuderia will be Red Bull’s closest challengers this weekend – although the likes of Aston Martin and Mercedes should not be written off.

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari SF-23.
05.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Practice Day.
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Speaking of the Mercedes-powered cars, the teams currently placed second and third in the constructors seemed to struggled for optimum performance and lap-time.

Varying track temperatures could lead to variations between practice and qualifying. However, with George Russell the only Mercedes-powered car in the top ten, there are some worrying signs for Mercedes and Aston.

Alpine should be the most satisfied with their FP3 performance, finishing 5th and 6th place. Although the 9-tenth deficit to Verstappen is still substantial, the French outfit will be pleased to have finished amongst the front-runners.

It remains to be seen if this can be replicated in qualifying and the race, although Otmar Szafnauer’s comments post-Baku indicate there is still confident in the A523.

Elsewhere, the midfield was closely matched – with AlphaTauri’s clear struggle for grip and performance perhaps the only obvious example of a team that could struggle to make Q2 with either driver in qualifying.