FP3: Ferrari stays ahead as Hamilton closes in

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit De Spa-Francorchampsbe

Scuderia Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen topped the third and final free practice session at Spa-Franchorchamps, but Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton has superior pace in the middle part of the 7.004km long track.

Ferrari was the first top team to hit the track in the final practice session. Both cars of the Italian team rolled on the 7.004km long track on the supersoft compound which is the softest one available at this race weekend. Kimi Räikkönen set a 1:43.425 on his very first lap while his team-mate Sebastian Vettel hit traffic. The German then set his best time of the weekend with a 1:43.869, but still four tenths off Kimi Räikkönen’s time.

Mercedes hit the track on the soft compound which is a step harder than the supersofts used by the Ferrari drivers. Lewis Hamilton set up his early best lap time of 1:43.523 while his team-mate Valtteri Bottas was three tenths down on the Brtion.

After his first stint, Vettel asked for suspension changes as he was still chasing the best set-up for his SF71-H after the Friday struggles. With around twenty minutes to go, the top four drivers rolled out for their final qualifying simulation run at the same time in the order of Bottas, Räikkönen, Vettel and Hamilton.

Bottas improved to second place with his 1:43.492 and was able to shave off a few thousands on his second flying lap. Räikkönen and Vettel both achieved their best time on their second hot lap with a 1:42.724 and a 1:42.661 respectively. Lewis Hamilton’s effort with a 1:42.798 was only enough for the third place, but the Briton failed to improve his previous best time in the third sector which indicated there is more to come from him, especially considering his incredible pace through the middle part of the track.

Red Bull ended up in the no man’s land of P5 and P6 between the Mercedes and Ferraris and the leading midfield runners, Verstappen fifth and Ricciardo sixth.

The leading midfield runner in FP3 was the Sauber of Charles Leclerc, with the Swiss team continuing to show impressive pace around Spa, making the most of the ‘Spec 3’ Ferrari engine that they first tried out back in Hungary.

McLaren-Reanault continued its struggles from yesterday with Fernando Alonso finishing in the 19th place and Stoffel Vandoorne ending the session in the dead last position.

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
15Sebastian VettelFerrari1:42.661-13
27Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:42.724+0.063s15
344Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:42.798+0.137s10
477Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:43.464+0.803s13
533Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:44.048+1.387s10
63Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:44.479+1.818s13
716Charles LeclercSauber Ferrari1:44.963+2.302s12
811Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:45.341+2.680s10
927Nico HulkenbergRenault1:45.464+2.803s17
1031Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:45.485+2.824s13
119Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:45.536+2.875s11
128Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:45.814+3.153s12
1355Carlos SainzRenault1:45.925+3.264s13
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:46.087+3.426s12
1510Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:46.182+3.521s16
1628Brendon HartleyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:46.259+3.598s17
1718Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:46.502+3.841s10
1835Sergey SirotkinWilliams Mercedes1:46.630+3.969s11
1914Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Renault1:46.942+4.281s16
202Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Renault1:47.061+4.400s14