Bottas nips Hamilton in final Brazil GP practice

Bottas and Hamilton set near identical times as F1 is 99% car, 1% driver
Bottas and Hamilton set near identical times as F1 is 99% car, 1% driver

Just 0.058s covered the four Mercedes and Ferrari drivers at the end of final practice in Brazil on Saturday but of course we know the Mercedes sandbag until qualifying and the race. The Silver Mercedes cars of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton headed the red Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, all of them nearly a second clear of the fifth-placed Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.

Fernando Alonso was a strong seventh for McLaren, with teammate Stoffel Vandoorne also making the top ten behind the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon and the second Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

Verstappen was the only driver whose fastest time has been set on the soft tire. What can he do on the supersofts? Run wide at Turn 4 was the answer. The Dutchman took too much curb on the corner exit and lost the rear end. A shake of the head and a trip through the mud later and he got going again.

With his tires cooked, Verstappen will head into qualifying without a proper supersoft run under his belt.

Fernando Alonso was a superb sixth for McLaren with 1m 10.288s, and Sergio Perez narrowly headed Force India team mate Esteban Ocon, with 1m 10.322s to 1m 10.357s. Behind Verstappen, the late-improving Carlos Sainz completed the top 10 for Renault with 1m 10.599s.

The times in the midfield were also close, however, with 0.737s covering Ricciardo in fifth and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly in 16th.

Rain is still expected for qualifying even though it held off for this session, and a super-tight Q1 in particular is in prospect, while the battle for pole will be spectacular as Ferrari have made up some of the already small deficit they had to Mercedes yesterday. It remains to be seen whether Red Bull can pull themselves up again.

Lance Stroll failed to set a time after his Williams lost drive early in the hour and will receive a new engine and gearbox ahead of qualifying, the latter of which will likely mean a five-place grid penalty for the Canadian rookie.

Results Practice 3

Pos No Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:09.281 +0.000s 24
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:09.284 +0.003s 26
3 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:09.326 +0.045s 20
4 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:09.339 +0.058s 21
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:10.244 +0.963s 14
6 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:10.288 +1.007s 15
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:10.322 +1.041s 21
8 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1:10.357 +1.076s 23
9 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:10.495 +1.214s 9
10 55 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault 1:10.599 +1.318s 23
11 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 1:10.637 +1.356s 21
12 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 1:10.671 +1.390s 14
13 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:10.721 +1.440s 19
14 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:10.743 +1.462s 18
15 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:10.762 +1.481s 20
16 10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:10.981 +1.700s 32
17 28 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:11.085 +1.804s 30
18 94 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:11.126 +1.845s 25
19 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:11.480 +2.199s 27
20 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes No Time No Time 1
Interlagos The Ferraris set near identical times because F1 is 99% car and 1% driver Esteban Ocon

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