FP3: Hamilton fights back to top final practice

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Russia, Sochi International Street Circuitru

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas continued to dominate the Russan Grand Prix weekend by securing the first two spots in the third and final practice session ahead of qualifying.

Lando Norris was the first driver to post a timed lap in the final session before the action goes hot in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix at Sochi. Using McLaren's radically new nose, the Briton registered a time of 1m36.423 on Pirelli's medium compound. Daniel Ricciardo usurped the lead by going 0.751s quciker than the young Briton.

When Mercedes drivers joined the track, they immediately demonstrated the superior pace of their W11. The Finn posted a 1m35.183 to go quickest which he improved by 9 tenths of a second on his next flying lap. Despite his pace, he complained over the low grip level. His teammate Lewis Hamilton posted a 1'34.499 to go second quickest.

The Monza race winner Pierre Gasly had a spin at Turn 15 after losing control of the rear end of his AlphaTauri AT01 when driving aggressively over the kerbs. He was, however, able to continue and limped back to the pits.

Max Verstappen was the last driver to set a timed lap on the leaderboard. The Dutchman went immediately second quickest with a time of 1m34.306, using the same soft compouned as the Mercedes drivers.

Ferrari opted for the yellow-walled medium rubber for their first run. LecLerc was 9th, Vettel 14th fastest after their first stint.

On his second set of fresh soft tyres, Bottas immediately raised the bar, posting a time of 1m34.055. He was very fast in the first sector, but missed the apex in a couple of corners in Sector 2 and 3, indicating that there was more to come from Mercedes. His teammate Hamilton could extract the maximum performance of the W11, registering the fastest time of the entire race weekend with a 1m33.279.

There was some late drama for a couple of drivers. Max Verstappen was blindingly quick through the first sector, but he encountered traffic in the second part of his flying lap which forced him to abort his lap. The incident meant that he finished down in 6th without improving his time from his first stint.

Daniel Ricciardo was also impressive in the first sector, but he had to make adjustments to the right rear mirror of his Renault. The Australian could therefore not fully concentrate on his lap and made several mistakes in the final sector. Alexander Albon had a time deleted for cutting the track at the exit of Turn 2. Lando Norris was another victim of traffic. While he was fast in the first two sectors, he ran into traffic in the last segment of the Sochi circuit, depriving him of the chance of improving his lap time.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:33.27916
277Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:34.055+0.776s19
355Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT1:34.096+0.817s17
431Esteban OconRENAULT1:34.239+0.960s13
511Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:34.252+0.973s14
633Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA1:34.306+1.027s11
75Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:34.594+1.315s14
818Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:34.732+1.453s13
926Daniil KvyatALPHATAURI HONDA1:34.768+1.489s14
103Daniel RicciardoRENAULT1:34.787+1.508s12
1110Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI HONDA1:34.792+1.513s12
1216Charles LeclercFERRARI1:34.806+1.527s14
1363George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:34.979+1.700s16
148Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:35.257+1.978s14
156Nicholas LatifiWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:35.292+2.013s14
1620Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:35.451+2.172s14
1799Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:35.590+2.311s15
187Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:35.599+2.320s15
1923Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA1:35.603+2.324s14
204Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT1:35.981+2.702s17