Valtteri Bottas set the quickest lap of final practice in Baku as both Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen hit trouble.
Mercedes driver Bottas set a best time of 1:42.742 on supersoft tyres to edge our Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen by just 0.095s. Lewis Hamilton was third just over four tenths of a second behind his team-mate.
In the opening half of the session Bottas was quickest on the soft tyres, with most others opting to run the supersoft throughout. The early runs left Bottas 0.395 clear of the supersoft-shod Raikkonen with Force India’s Sergio Perez third.
Further back Red Bull Racing and Sauber were the only other teams to run on the soft tyre in the opening half with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in particular working the yellow tyres hard as he logged 12 laps by the half way point.
Bottas moved to the supersofts soon after the halfway mark but his opening lap was scrappy and he made no improvement. That allowed Hamilton to vault to P1 with a time 1:43.348.
Bottas made amends and he was soon back at the top with a time of 1:43.057 and then his best lap of 1:42.742.
By that stage Vettel’s session was already done. Just after the half hour, the German was told to pit because of an issue. He returned to the garage where a hydraulic problem prevented him taking any further part. He finished the session in P12 with a best time of 1:44.344. He only managed seven laps and did not complete a quali sim.
Verstappen was the next to encounter problems. The Dutch driver was in third place after his first run on supersoft tyres but as he wound up for another attempt he ran wide at Turn 15 and then slowed to a stop at the next corner, saying “everything just switched off”. It was later confirmed that like Vettel he had also suffered a hydraulic problem.
Team-mate Ricciardo, meanwhile, had jumped to fourth place. Behind him Force India’s Esteban Ocon was fifth ahead of Verstappen, with Felipe Massa seventh. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was eighth, ahead of Lance Stroll, as Sergio Perez completed the top 10.
2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:42.742s – 21
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:42.837s 0.095s 14
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:43.158s 0.416s 23
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1:43.287s 0.545s 24
5 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:43.344s 0.602s 21
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:43.614s 0.872s 16
7 Felipe Massa Williams 1:43.738s 0.996s 18
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:43.908s 1.166s 21
9 Lance Stroll Williams 1:44.040s 1.298s 17
10 Sergio Perez Force India 1:44.138s 1.396s 22
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:44.312s 1.570s 16
12 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:44.344s 1.602s 7
13 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:44.401s 1.659s 23
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:44.741s 1.999s 18
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:44.926s 2.184s 20
16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:45.143s 2.401s 17
17 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:45.491s 2.749s 20
18 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:45.645s 2.903s 21
19 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1:45.722s 2.980s 19
20 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:53.040s 10.298s 4