Photo: FIA

Hamilton Leads the Way in Final Practice for Russian GP


Lewis Hamilton headed a Mercedes one-two in final practice for Formula 1’s Russian Grand Prix beating team-mate Valtteri Bottas by almost eight tenths of a second. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz finished third, just fourth hundredths of a second behind Bottas.

The Mercedes drivers were to the fore from the start of the session, with Bottas leading the way on soft tires with a lap of 1:35.183. Hamilton, on the same compound, was two tenths off the pace after a mistake on his opening run led to a second attempt.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen didn’t appear until the session had almost reach the halfway point. When he did emerge from the team’s garage he did so on soft tires and on his first flying lap he split the Mercedes with a lap of 1:34.306, just 0.017s off Bottas’ early benchmark.

There was brief pause as drivers prepared for their final qualifying simulations. Bottas was quickly back on track and he returned to the top of the order with a lap of 1:34.055. Hamilton though was behind the Finn on track and with a much tidier lap reclaimed top spot with a blistering lap of 1:33.279 to eclipse his team-mate by almost eight tenths of a second. Sainz then moved to third place ahead of Verstappen with a good lap of 1:34.096.

After displaying good pace early in the session, Verstappen looked set to challenge Mercedes again as he went quickest of all in Sector 1 at the start of his qualifying run. However, he lost a large amount time in second sector, possible through traffic, and backed out of the remainder of the lap.

That allowed Renault’s Esteban Ocon and Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez to steal fourth and fifth places respectively, with Verstappen being shuffled down to sixth place.

Verstappen’s team-mate Alex Albon also failed to get the most out of his qualifying sim. The Thai driver went wide in Turn 2 and had his lap deleted for a track limits infringement. He would finish in P19.

Seventh place in the session went to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with the four-time champion finishing five place and two tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc. Lance Stroll took eighth place ahead of Daniil Kvyat and the final top 10 place went to Daniel Ricciardo.

The Australian suffered a bizarre technical problem on his final flying lap as his right side mirror twisted around and he lost time as he frequently adjusted the mirror arm.

2020 FIA Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.279 16 225.697
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:34.055 0.776 19 223.834
3 Carlos Sainz McLaren/Renault 1:34.096 0.817 17 223.737
4 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:34.239 0.960 13 223.397
5 Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 1:34.252 0.973 14 223.367
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:34.306 1.027 11 223.239
7 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:34.594 1.315 14 222.559
8 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1:34.732 1.453 13 222.235
9 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri/Honda 1:34.768 1.489 14 222.150
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:34.787 1.508 12 222.106
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:34.792 1.513 12 222.094
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:34.806 1.527 14 222.061
13 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:34.979 1.700 16 221.657
14 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1:35.257 1.978 14 221.010
15 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:35.292 2.013 14 220.929
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:35.451 2.172 14 220.561
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:35.590 2.311 15 220.240
18 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:35.599 2.320 15 220.219
19 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1:35.603 2.324 14 220.210
20 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1:35.981 2.702 17 219.343

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