Leclerc grabs top spot in FP3

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Charles Leclerc showed promising pace in the final practice session, having beaten his rivals comfortably throughout the session. No serious incidents happened in a rather uneventful session.

Before the session started, it was announced a couple of drivers changed power unit components. Hulkenberg got a new ICE, getting hit with a 5 positions drop on the grid, and Albon made a second ICE change as well.

Not much track action went on in the early stages of practice, with a handful of drivers doing a reconnaissance round Track conditions start out quite toasty, although a bit less than yesterday.

Almost 15 minutes in and a few drivers finally start to put in timed laps, with Sainz being the first one. McLaren are practicing team slip stream tactics. As usual, these first few laps are done on the medium tyre to get a good feel of the track, before switching to the faster qualifying tyres. Still, track is still extremely quiet, with especially the top teams not too eager to get the car out.

1/3 into the session and we finally see a Mercedes, with Bottas straight to soft, which obviously got him straight to the top of the sheets. However, all in all it was still a relative poor lap, with Bottas being quite cautious after his big crash yesterday.

Meanwhile, Renault is struggling for stability out of the corners, going wide or having understeer to oversteer moments.

Ferrari where the next to go out and straight to the softs, and went duly on to a 1-2, with Leclerc being a comfortable 0.2s clear from Vettel. Bottas meanwhile improves on his confidence and his laptime, putting himself inside the Ferrari sandwich. We are now almost haflway into the session and half the field still has to set a timed lap, with especially Hamilton and the Red Bulls taking their time.

Hamilton and Verstappen went with 35 minutes finally out. While Verstappen was well off the pace, around a full second, Hamilton on his first timed lap did not do muich better, almost being 0,8s off Leclerc's time, having gone a bit wide a couple of times.

Hamilton caused a bit of a distraction on his cooldown lap for Grosjean, with the latter locking up his tyre at the hairpin and going off track while being on a hot lap. Hamilton wasn't too riled about it, going for another fast lap on the same tyres afterwards and closing the gap down to 0.4s. Verstappen meanwhile also improved, with now position 2 to 5 covered by less than a half a tenth of a second. Close competition indeed behind the young Charles Leclerc, who did a stonking lap.

However, Bottas had none of it and showed he got over his crash yesterday by putting his car on top with half a tenth, with 20 minutes to go into the session. Leclerc reacted by going 0,15s faster than his previous time. Hamilton just missed out on beating that by 0.01s, which includes going a bit wide again on the final corner. Leclerc then assured his good form by going another tenth faster. His teammate however struggled a lot more, being almost 3 tenths slower. Meanwhile, Red Bull is having less of an interesting day at their home track, with only getting P5 and P7. Norris in the mclaren parking himself between the Red Bulls. Gasly clearly struggles to match his teammate's pace, being over 7 tenths slower.

7 minutes to go an the track really has become alive compared to the early snooze fest. With everybody in for a final shiny new set, things do look set to get interesting. Grosjean went dramatically wide at the final corner again, really having issues keeping his car from understeering off the track in that corner.

It is a mad dash towards the start finish line to get the final hot lap in. However, nobody of the top teams improved. So it is Charles on top being the only one in the 1m03s, Hamilton second, Bottas third, Vettel fourth and Verstappen fifth.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
116Charles LeclercFerrari1:03.987-18
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:04.130+0.143s21
377Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:04.221+0.234s23
45Sebastian VettelFerrari1:04.250+0.263s20
533Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:04.446+0.459s18
64Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault1:04.986+0.999s19
710Pierre GaslyRed Bull Racing Honda1:05.152+1.165s15
855Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault1:05.219+1.232s22
999Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:05.336+1.349s17
1026Daniil KvyatScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:05.391+1.404s25
1123Alexander AlbonScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:05.481+1.494s29
1227Nico HulkenbergRenault1:05.514+1.527s21
137Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:05.514+1.527s21
1411Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:05.523+1.536s18
158Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:05.620+1.633s20
1618Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:05.650+1.663s17
173Daniel RicciardoRenault1:05.878+1.891s19
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:06.017+2.030s11
1963George RussellWilliams Mercedes1:06.676+2.689s23
2088Robert KubicaWilliams Mercedes1:07.484+3.497s23