Zandvoort FP3: McLaren and Mercedes impress in tricky session

Jaden Diaz
26 Aug, 2023

Max Verstappen was fastest in FP3, ahead of George Russell and teammate Sergio Perez. Only the British driver was within a second of the Dutchman in this morning’s wet and tricky conditions. Sergio Perez, Alonso, Hamilton, Albon, Piastri, Bottas, Leclerc and Norris completed the top ten.

In the first part of the session, the two Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton in particular, struggled to heat up the tyres and bring them up to temperature. However, towards the end, the W14 performed well, especially in the hands of George Russell. 

The two McLaren drivers spent much of the session battling for the lead before the final ten minutes, so it will come as no surprise to see the MCL60 battling at the front. Meanwhile, the difficulties continue for the Ferraris.

FP3 Zandvoort: Magnussen and Zhou make mistakes, McLaren confirms their pace in the wet

The session began in wet conditions, with several drivers on track on ‘full wet’ tires as the rain began to pour down. The unpredictable conditions saw a few drivers get into trouble, including the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, before Kevin Magnussen’s accident at the exit of turn 3.

The Dane spun and impacted the barriers coming out of the flyover on his out lap, causing the first red flag of the day.

When the session resumed, several drivers continued to struggle with wet to intermediate tyres. After a few minutes, it was Guanyu Zhou who made the second big mistake of the day as he came out of the last corner, getting his Alfa Romeo stuck in the gravel, causing the second red flag of FP3 at Zandvoort.

After just half an hour of the session, Max Verstappen got out of his car and spoke for several minutes with Helmut Marko, explaining the problems encountered with the RB19, before rejoining the track ten minutes from the end. 

Twenty minutes from the end, the laps began in intermediate rubber conditions, with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri particularly fit, confirming a very competitive McLaren on this circuit and, more specifically, in these conditions, which reward the characteristics of the MCL60. 

On the other hand, the two Mercedes suffered more in the pursuit of temperature in the tyres, with both drivers less competitive initially, only to find speed in the final minutes, and in Brackley, they hope to be battling with McLaren for the podium.

The obvious difficulties at Ferrari continue, with several long leads in turn one and once against struggled to complete laps without making mistakes, as happened yesterday.

The wet conditions favour a heavier set-up of the car, a luxury that the SF23 can’t afford given its limitations. Both Leclerc and Sainz made mistakes several times in turn one, going long but without consequences due to a lack of temperature in the front tyres.

The third red flag was caused by Liam Lawson, again at the last corner due to a spin without consequences for the car.

The session quickly restarted, and the last ten minutes saw all the riders – with the exception of Magnussen and Zhou – in action to get used to the conditions they could find in qualifying and set the best possible time, all at a considerable distance from Max Verstappen.

Author: Andrea Vergani

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang

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