Bottas tops practice 3 at Suzuka

Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas edged Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton in final practice at Suzuka, despite his session ending after a little more than 20 minutes after an off at Spoon Curve left his car with damage. Fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen also brought out the red flags in what was a disjointed, stop-start 60-minutes, going off at Degner 2 and crashing his Ferrari into the tire barriers.

As the track had dried after heavy rain at the start of the morning, Mercedes quickly got down to business with Bottas and Hamilton setting the pace on soft Pirellis, ahead of the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Ferrari, meanwhile, split their tire strategy, Sebastian Vettel on softs, Kimi Raikkonen on supersofts, and appeared to be doing the race running they didn’t have time for in FP1.

Bottas had just gone fastest in 1m 29.055s, very close to Michael Schumacher’s all-time lap record of 1m 28.954s and 0.014s ahead of Hamilton’s 1m 29.069s, when he got things wrong exiting Spoon Curve on his first run on supersofts.

Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen

The Finn ran wide onto the artificial grass and despite his best efforts to hang on, his car slewed sideways into the wall damaging the right rear corner of his Mercedes and puncturing the tire before nosing headfirst in and damaging the front wing. Out came the red flags as he cruised back to the pits, the subsequent damage keeping him in the garage for the rest of the session.

Running had only just resumed after the mess had been cleared up, when Raikkonen got out of shape at Degner 2 and slid his Ferrari through the short gravel trap and into the tire barrier. His car was swiftly removed and moments later teammate Vettel, who had earlier survived his own slide through the same gravel trap, jumped up to third on 1m 29.717s on the supersofts. The German then trimmed that to 1m 29.379s but that left him 0.3s back of the Mercedes, the Ferrari no match here for the longer wheelbase Mercedes.

Results

Pos No Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:29.055 +0.000s 9
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.069 +0.014s 19
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29.379 +0.324s 23
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:29.910 +0.855s 15
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:30.018 +0.963s 13
6 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1:30.109 +1.054s 12
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:30.315 +1.260s 19
8 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:30.424 +1.369s 13
9 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:30.563 +1.508s 12
10 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:30.764 +1.709s 22
11 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 1:30.764 +1.709s 21
12 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Honda 1:30.770 +1.715s 18
13 55 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:30.799 +1.744s 23
14 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:30.982 +1.927s 12
15 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:31.011 +1.956s 20
16 10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:31.353 +2.298s 25
17 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:31.459 +2.404s 13
18 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:32.579 +3.524s 22
19 94 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber Ferrari 1:32.698 +3.643s 21
20 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:33.962 +4.907s 12

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