Bottas and Mercedes lead pack in FP3

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Japan, Circuit Suzukajp

Valtteri Bottas was fastest in the final practice session ahead of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix later today. He was narrowly faster than Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton, with both driver having a reasonable margin over the competition.

Hamilton already claimed on Friday that his Mercedes felt like it should again, and his and Bottas's performances seem to confirm that the silver arrows were back on form. Sebastian Vettel was the closest challenger and limited the deficit to 3 tenths.

The Red Bull duo were fourth and fifth fastest, but nearly a second down on the Mercedes. Ocon, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Perez nad Palmer were all more than a full second down as they completed the top 10.

Raikkonen was the most notable driver absent from that top 10, due to an error at Degner 2. Going into the corner slightly too quickly, he oversteered and went sideways into the barriers. Ferrari would later announced they would change the gearbox on the Finn's car, resulting in a 5-place grid penalty, just like his fellow countryman Bottas.

Bottas on his behalf also had a bit of a moment, as he went too wide on the exit of Spoon, ending up going through the grass and ruining his front wing, along with causing a right rear puncture. It was extremely clumsy and very unlike the Finn.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:29.055-9
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:29.069+0.014s19
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1:29.379+0.324s23
433Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:29.910+0.855s15
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:30.018+0.963s13
631Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:30.109+1.054s12
727Nico HulkenbergRenault1:30.315+1.260s19
814Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda1:30.424+1.369s13
911Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:30.563+1.508s12
1030Jolyon PalmerRenault1:30.764+1.709s22
1119Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes1:30.764+1.709s21
122Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda1:30.770+1.715s18
1355Carlos SainzToro Rosso1:30.799+1.744s23
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:30.982+1.927s12
1518Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:31.011+1.956s20
1610Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1:31.353+2.298s25
178Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:31.459+2.404s13
189Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:32.579+3.524s22
1994Pascal WehrleinSauber Ferrari1:32.698+3.643s21
207Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:33.962+4.907s12