F1: Bottas leads Mercedes 1-2 in final Qatar GP practice

The Mercedes team, with their ‘trick rocket’ engine dominated final practice for the Qatar GP Saturday afternoon under the sun in Doha, Qatar.

Valtteri Bottas turned a lap of 1m22.310s to lead his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.078s.

Max Verstappen and Red Bull had no answer for the faster Mercedes car. On a late desperate run, set a personal best first sector, but he was already three tenths off the Mercedes. He matched the Silver Arrows in the middle sector, and picked up a tow in the final sector to jump ahead of his Pierre Gasly into third.

That left Verstappen sucking wind, still 0.341s off Bottas in P1.

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Qatar at Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Something remains wrong with Verstappen’s rear wing. The team have had it on and off the car multiple times this weekend, with slow motion shots showing it flapping more wildly than usual when DRS is activated. Is there an issue – and if so, can they solve it before qualifying later on?

Gasly was 0.536s down on Bottas while Sergio Perez rounded out the top-5 in the 2nd Red Bull 0.536s behind.

Considering the conditions were unrepresentative of what they will be under the sun in qualifying, that was still a very interesting session there.

Red Bull aren’t the only team with some head scratching to do. Charles Leclerc wasn’t happy with the handling of his Ferrari, especially in the first few corners.

Charles Leclerc

Meanwhile, Lance Stroll was equally unimpressed with the set-up of his car as he wound up P15 in that session. His Aston Martin teammate Sebastian Vettel did not fare much better, sucking in 12th, 1.574s off the pace and out to lunch.

As for Haas – Nikita Mazepin is having an absolute mare of a weekend so far. Sitting out the entire FP2 session yesterday as his car required a chassis change, he desperately needed a good session here. But instead he didn’t manage a single lap, grinding to a halt at the end of the pit lane early on and not being seen again as the team changed a power controller.

Fernando Alonso – 7th quick

Practice 3 Results

1 Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG 1m22.310s +0.000s
2 Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG 1m22.388s +0.078
3 Max Verstappen NED Red Bull Racing 1m22.651s +0.341
4 Pierre Gasly FRA Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda 1m22.835s +0.525
5 Sergio Perez MEX Red Bull Racing 1m22.846s +0.536
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. ESP Scuderia Ferrari 1m23.048s +0.738
7 Fernando Alonso CHI Alpine F1 Team 1m23.186s +0.876
8 Esteban Ocon FRA Alpine F1 Team 1m23.209s +0.899
9 Charles Leclerc MON Scuderia Ferrari 1m23.276s +0.966
10 Yuki Tsunoda JPN Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda 1m23.567s +1.257
11 Daniel Ricciardo AUS McLaren F1 Team 1m23.711s +1.401
12 Sebastian Vettel GER Aston Martin 1m23.884s +1.574
13 Lando Norris GBR McLaren F1 Team 1m23.895s +1.585
14 George Russell ISR Williams Racing 1m23.923s +1.613
15 Lance Stroll CAN Aston Martin 1m24.154s +1.844
16 Kimi Raikkonen FIN Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen 1m24.246s +1.936
17 Antonio Giovinazzi GBR Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen 1m24.288s +1.978
18 Nicholas Latifi CAN Williams Racing 1m24.499s +2.189
19 Mick Schumacher GER Uralkali Haas F1 Team 1m24.460s +2.370
20 Nikita Mazepin RUS Uralkali Haas F1 Team No Time Set