FP3: Bottas pips Hamilton as Mercedes continues to dominate

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Portugal, Autódromo Internacional do Algarvept

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas completed Portuguese F1 practice sweep in the third and final practice session ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's racer Max Verstappen.

Nice and sunny weather welcomed teams and drivers at Portimao when the final practice session kicked off. Although drivers could complete a relatively high number of laps during Friday practices, the red flag period in the second session meant that most of the drivers were deprived of carrying out qualifying simulations on the red soft tyres.

This lack of running on the C3 compound motivated the majority of the field to only use the softest compound available at Portimao in the entire Free Practice 3. Valtteri Bottas was the first to set a time lap in the session, posting the fastest lap of the weekend with a time 1m17.8. His lead did not last long though as his teammate raised the bar by registering an eyebrow-raising time of 1m16.9. The Briton managed to find another three tenths of a second on his next flying lap.

Ferrari continued to make a good impression following a promising Friday. Leclerc managed to set lap times that were good enough for top places before he made a mistake on his seventh lap into the session, spinning at Turn 14 and flat-spotting his front left tyre.

Interestingly, Mercedes did not want to wait long for their second sting on fresh tyres, sending Bottas and Hamilton out on to the track with half an hour remaining. The Finn managed to put a good lap together and flew to the top of the field, posting a time of 1m16.654. His teammate set purple sector times on his hot laps, but was unable to get a lap together, failing to improve his previous best lap time.

Ferrari drivers managed to improve their times, but they also failed to find big improvements. When other drivers also found it hard to set better lap times, it became evident that the track conditions had changed for the worse. Max Verstappen failed to improve his best time that he set on the medium compound with his engineer claiming that the change of the wind direction made the track slower.

Daniel Ricciardo ended up 14th after DRS issues prevented the Renault driver putting in a low-fuel run prior to the session end. Mercedes and Ferrari drivers used the closing stages of the session to carry out high-fuel runs which could give them vital information about the tyre performance in race trim after no one was able to complete race runs during yesterday disrupted FP2 session.

The session was red-flagged with just under a minute to go when a loose drain cover was dislodged by Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari. The session was not restarted, meaning that drivers did not have a chance to carry out practice starts on the starting grid.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:16.65427
244Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:16.680+0.026s23
333Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA1:16.812+0.158s21
410Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI HONDA1:16.930+0.276s24
523Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA1:17.117+0.463s25
616Charles LeclercFERRARI1:17.229+0.575s20
755Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT1:17.238+0.584s24
811Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:17.297+0.643s17
94Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT1:17.478+0.824s22
1031Esteban OconRENAULT1:17.666+1.012s20
115Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:17.685+1.031s24
1226Daniil KvyatALPHATAURI HONDA1:17.720+1.066s29
137Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:17.922+1.268s20
143Daniel RicciardoRENAULT1:17.935+1.281s13
1563George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:18.032+1.378s20
1618Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:18.100+1.446s17
1799Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:18.201+1.547s20
1820Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:18.287+1.633s13
196Nicholas LatifiWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:18.397+1.743s20
208Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:18.454+1.800s19