Charles Leclerc went quickest in final practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as both he and second-placed Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel eclipsed their rivals by more than a second.
In the qualifying simulations at the end of the third practice session at the Baku City Circuit, Leclerc set a time of 141.604 to take top spot. Vettel, who had languished some way off his young team-mate’s pace during the session, then delivered his own telling lap to take P2 just 0.198s behind the young Monegasque driver.
The emphatic display of pace put both Ferraris over a second clear of third-placed Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing.
Valtteri Bottas finished as the quickest of the two Mercedes drivers, though the Finn’s time of 1:43.064 left him a sizeable 1.460s off Leclerc’s blistering pace. Defending champion and 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton ended the session in fifth place 0.112s behind his team-mate.
Leclerc was also quickest in the early phases of the session. The Ferrari driver then outpaced Vettel by three tenths of a second as the pair ran on soft tyres, while Mercedes opened the session on medium rubber.
In the later stages, Toro Rosso claimed best-of-the-rest status, with Daniil Kvyat sixth fastest and 1.6s off the pace and Alex Albon in P8 just under eight hundredths of a second behind his Russian team-mate.
The Toro Rosso drivers were split by Haas’ Kevin Magnussen who went just six thousandth of a second quicker than Albon over the 6.003km circuit.
Ninth place in the session was taken by two-time Baku podium finisher Sergio Pérez of Racing Point and the final top 10 position was claimed by Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen.
At the lower end of the order George Russell managed to complete 20 laps in a Williams car built up around a new chassis following yesterday’s collision with a loose drain cover. The Briton, completing his first laps of the weekend, finished in P19, 0.3s behind team-mate Robert Kubica.
Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly, meanwhile, propped up the timesheet as he focused on race preparation following an FP2 incident that saw him miss a call to the weighbridge. He summoned by the stewards and owing to the infraction was handed the penalty of a pit lane start for tomorrow’s race.
2019 Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 14 1:41.604
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 14 1:41.802 0.198
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 16 1:42.852 1.248
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 19 1:43.064 1.460
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 17 1:43.176 1.572
6 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso 18 1:43.223 1.619
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas 19 1:43.294 1.690
8 Alex Albon Scuderia Toro Rosso 19 1:43.300 1.696
9 Sergio Perez Racing Point 15 1:43.430 1.826
10 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 19 1:43.537 1.933
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 20 1:43.561 1.957
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 20 1:43.637 2.033
13 Lando Norris McLaren 20 1:43.924 2.320
14 Carlos Sainz McLaren 19 1:43.978 2.374
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point 16 1:44.039 2.435
16 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 19 1:44.043 2.439
17 Romain Grosjean Haas 16 1:44.374 2.770
18 Robert Kubica Williams 19 1:46.000 4.396
19 George Russell Williams 20 1:46.290 4.686
20 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing 22 1:47.836 6.232