Lewis Hamilton topped the final practice session at Sochi, leading Valtteri Bottas by a massive three-quarters of a second while Carlos Sainz underlined McLaren’s pace by placing third.
It’s the first time Hamilton’s led a practice session since FP2 at Monza, but with Bottas unable to get a fully clean lap in and only half a tenth ahead of Sainz.
There was a bumper battle behind the two Mercedes between Renault, McLaren and Racing Point plus Red Bull looking to get involved.
Esteban Ocon was fourth with Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen behind, the trio separated by six-hundredths of a second.
Lando Norris didn’t get a competitive time in and was last, while Alex Albon had lap times deleted, so we didn’t get a representation of his pace.
Lance Stroll also had trouble as he spent part of the session up on the stand having work done on the underside of the car and eventually placing eighth from 12 laps, half a second behind his teammate.
Romain Grosjean enlivened a fairly incident-free session with some entertaining radio messages, one early exchange in the session sounding like an existential crisis for the Frenchman of precisely what he was doing here.
He eventually placed fourteenth though without a tow, with his race engineer quick to congratulate him.
“There’s nothing I can do with that car dude. We are almost crashing every corner because there’s no balance!”
Romain Grosjean sent a long radio message back to the garage lambasting the Haas’ performance at the track.
Having analysed the running from yesterday, it’s estimated the soft tyres will run for no more than 15 laps, meaning it could be a tyre-saving exercise on Sunday.
Early on in the session the AlphaTauris were flying high in the top five, being two of the only cars to run the soft tyres.
However, they also provided the only incident of the session Pierre Gasly suffered a spin at turn 15 after getting. They finished the session ninth and eleventh led by Daniil Kvyat on his home turf.
Vettel’s had a quietly good weekend so far and was seventh this morning, with a decent margin of two tenths both in front and behind.
Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top ten having not been able to get a clean flying lap in at the end of the session as he struggled with his wing mirror, but the expectation is there’s more to come from him this afternoon.
CLASSIFICATION: END OF FP3 ⏱️
Hamilton on top in final practice session
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