Lewis Hamilton showed impressive pace to top the final practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix timesheets, beating Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas by over half a second.
Bottas and Leclerc were the first to head out for qualifying simulations with just under 20 minutes left in the session. Bottas took top spot with a lap of 1:17.291, but was immediately dislodged by the Ferrari youngster who set a good time of 1:17.099.
Hamilton and the second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel were just starting their flying laps, however. And while Vettel could only manage a time seven hundredths of a second slower than his team-mate, Hamilton was lighting up the timing screens with personal best sectors. He crossed the line in 1:16.568 to take P1 from Leclerc by 0.531s and he would remain the only driver to dip below 1m17s.
Bottas went for another flying lap and made enough of an improvement to shuffle Vettel for fourth place. Bottas finished 0.555s behind team-mate Hamilton.
Behind Vettel, Haas’ Romain Grosjean took fifth place, just two hundredths of a second behind the four-time champion Ferrari driver. Grosjean wasa backed up by team-mate Kevin Magnussen who finished three tenths behind the French driver, in P6.
Max Verstappen finished as the lead Red Bull in seventh place. The Dutchman was left seething as his final lap was compromised when he was forced to evade the slow-moving Racing Point of Lance Stroll in the final chicane.
Verstappen might have targeted a second flyer lap but any ideas he had about improving were ended when, with a few minutes left on the clock, Williams’ George Russell spun off at Turn 4. The Briton lost control and mid-corner and slid off backwards into the barriers.
The incident brought out the red flags and with little time left on the clock the decision was soon taken to not re-start the session.
Russell’s spin meant that Pierre Gasly in the second Red Bull was denied a quali sim and he ended the session in P14 with a best lap set earlier in the session on medium tyres.
Behind seventh-placed Verstappen, Alex Albon put in a good performance to take P8 with a time of 1:17.864, a little over three tenths of a second behind Verstappen.
Kimi Räikkönen was ninth for Alfa Romeo, with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in tenth place with a time 1.4s off that of Hamilton.
Russell wasn’t the only driver to bring out the red flags during the session. Bottas spun off in the early part of the session at Turn 5 and with his car beached on the edge of the gravel trap, running was halted.
2019 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 14 1:16.568
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 16 1:17.099 0.531
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 9 1:17.123 0.555
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 15 1:17.172 0.604
5 Romain Grosjean Haas 15 1:17.192 0.624
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas 15 1:17.530 0.962
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull 12 1:17.558 0.990
8 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 16 1:17.864 1.296
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 17 1:17.969 1.401
10 Carlos Sainz McLaren 17 1:18.003 1.435
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 17 1:18.105 1.537
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 17 1:18.350 1.782
13 Sergio Perez Racing Point 12 1:18.656 2.088
14 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 12 1:18.693 2.125
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point 16 1:18.734 2.166
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 14 1:18.740 2.172
17 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 14 1:18.974 2.406
18 Lando Norris McLaren 14 1:19.007 2.439
19 George Russell Williams 16 1:19.421 2.853
20 Robert Kubica Williams 18 1:20.570 4.002