FP3: Leclerc quickest for Ferrari in late flurry

Michelle Foster
FP3: Leclerc quickest in late flurry

FP3: Leclerc quickest in late flurry

Final practice was a tale of two parts as, while only eight drivers set times in the first 45 minutes, the final 15 saw a flurry of activity ending with a P1 for Charles Leclerc.

FP3 for the Mexican GP was a damp squib to start with as, even though the rain had stopped before the green light, the wet track kept most of the drivers in their garages.

Only seven drivers completed a timed lap in the first half of FP3 but, when the conditions were finally good enough for slicks, there was a mad dash as everyone wanted a bit of track time before qualifying.

Leclerc finished fastest ahead of Vettel and Bottas.

As the drivers awaited the green light there was drama at Renault as the team discovered a hydraulic leak on Daniel Ricciardo’s RS19 meaning a late start for the Honey Badger.

The intermediates were the tyre of choice as the drivers ventured out, but even those weren’t enough to keep Lando Norris on the track.

Carlos Sainz reported an “upset” of the steering wheel as he put in his first lap, however, he was probably grateful that it wasn’t as bad as Pierre Gasly’s upset which kept him out of the car.

The Toro Rosso driver was one of 50 to 150 – depending on who you’re speaking to – people in the paddock suffering from a stomach bug.

FP2 crasher Alexander Albon set the first lap time of the morning, a 1:28.975, and then went off the track on his next lap as the conditions were tricky.

As more drivers headed out onto the rapidly drying track, Bottas, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen all had a stint in P1. The Red Bull driver lowered the benchmark to a 1:26.118 before returning to the pits.

Only seven drivers, including Leclerc, set times in the opening 30 minutes while his Ferrari team-mate Vettel was stuck in the pits with a sensor issue.

Renault’s session went from bad to worse as, while fixing Ricciardo’s car, they found the same issue on Nico Hulkenberg’s. The team announced no running for either driver.

“We appear to have the same issue on both cars – a pollution of one of the cooling systems, which requires careful cleaning before qualifying,” said the team. “Our guys are working hard to fix it but we’re unlikely to go out in this session.”

As the session entered its second half Kevin Magnussen added his name to the list of drivers with a lap time, bringing the tally up to eight.

The slick Pirellis made their first appearance of the day with 15 minutes to go as Kimi Raikkonen left the pits on a set of soft tyres.

Moments later the Mercedes team-mates headed out and one by one the rest of the field, excluding Renault but including Gasly, joined the action.

After an action-packed final 15 minutes it was Leclerc who was quickest of all with a 1:16.145.

Vettel was second, 0.027s down, while Bottas was third with a 1:16.259.

Hamilton, Sainz and Verstappen were next in line ahead of Gasly, Albon, Norris and Mexico’s Sergio Perez.

1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:16.145 soft
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.027s soft
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.114s soft
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.236s soft
5 Carlos Sainz McLaren 0.493s soft
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.758s soft
7 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 0.945s soft
8 Alex Albon Red Bull 0.949s soft
9 Lando Norris McLaren 1.001s soft
10 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1.062s soft
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1.384s soft
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1.595s soft
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1.721s soft
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1.736s soft
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1.987s soft
16 Romain Grosjean Haas 2.382s soft
17 George Russell Williams 4.820s soft
18 Robert Kubica Williams 5.857s soft
19 Nico Hulkenberg Renault no time
20 Daniel Ricciardo Renault no time

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