Max Verstappen will go into qualifying for the Mexico City Grand Prix the favourite for pole position after going fastest in final practice in the capital.

The Dutchman was again narrowly shadowed by Alex Albon who went second fastest, just 0.070s shy of Verstappen’s 1:17.887s best. Home hero Sergio Perez as third fastest, 0.139s off the pace of his Red Bull team-mate.

Read More: F1 2023 Mexico City GP – FP3 Results

It was a quiet start to the session as few cars took to the circuit in the opening ten minutes. Those that did take to the track in the early stages were confronted with a green circuit lacking in grip partly due to the effects of the altitude in Mexico City, and partly due to higher track temperatures than Friday.

Pierre Gasly suffered a spin after losing the rear at Turn 12 on a fresh set of Mediums. The Alpine driver was able to keep the car out of the barriers but he was not the only driver to struggle with the conditions.

All drivers would complain about sliding their way around the Autodromo Hermanos Rordriguez. In the high speed segments, the increasing track temperature would only exacerbate the issue and will continue to do so approaching qualifying later this evening.

Red Bull waited some 20 minutes before sending Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez out on track, allowing for competitors to lay down some rubber before taking to the track.

Max Verstappen controlled proceedings on Friday and showed no signs of letting up in FP3 as he initially returned to the top of the pile with a 1:18.429s to jump Russell, followed by Perez at the halfway mark.

At that stage, Kevin Magnussen was the only driver yet to set a time in the Haas after reporting a handling issue with his car.

Upon further inspection, Haas confirmed damage to his left rear wheel which could no longer be used. That left the Dane with just one set of tyres for the remainder of the session and he lost a large amount of track time as a result.

With 20 minutes to go, Williams were the first team to bolt on a second set of Soft compound tyres to begin the final round of qualifying simulations.

Alex Albon set purple sectors all round to usurp Verstappen by almost half-a-second, admitting he could have gone faster after being distracted by a lock-up for Esteban Ocon into Turn 1.

Alexander Albon (THA) Williams Racing FW45.
27.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Practice Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

Verstappen almost inevitably regained the top spot, but he was only able to find 0.070s on the Williams. Despite complaints of traffic from the three-time champion, Perez was unable to join his team-mate and the Williams in the 1:17s, but slotted into third 0.139s adrift of the benchmark.

There were a couple of close calls for Ferrari in the dying minutes of the session. Firstly, Charles Leclerc found the unaware Kevin Magnussen in the esses, causing him to about his final qualifying attempt.

Carlos Sainz too found traffic on his final effort in the form of the dawdling Lance Stroll, also in the second sector’s esses. Sainz pitched into a spin and narrowly avoided collecting the Aston Martin before expressing his frustration with the Canadian. The incident will be investigated the session.

As a result of the close calls, Leclerc and Sainz place 13th and 15th respectively.

As the chequered flag fell, Max Verstappen’s 1:17.887s remained unbeaten, meaning the Dutchman heads into qualifying having topped all three practice sessions.

Alex Albon maintained second for Williams, and again looks set for a strong qualifying performance later today. Team-mate Sargeant managed 11th.

Sergio Perez placed third, followed by George Russell. Oscar Piastri was the leading McLaren in fifth ahead of Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda and Lando Norris. Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton completed the top ten in what is shaping up to be a difficult weekend for the seven-time champion.

Qualifying for the Mexico City Grand Prix gets under way at 15:00 local time.

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