FP3: Hamilton blitzes Bottas in final practice

Date published: September 26 2020

Lewis Hamilton

After losing out to his team-mate on Friday, Lewis Hamilton destroyed Valtteri Bottas in FP3 for the Russian GP, almost eight-tenths up.

Carlos Sainz was in third place.

After a difficult Friday for many of the drivers, Formula 1 returned to the Sochi circuit on Saturday for the final practice hour.

Lando Norris set the early pace before Bottas took over at the front. Bottas missed the apex at Turn 7 on his first hot lap and backed off before putting in a second hot lap, and crossing the line with a 1:35.1.

“The grip is very low,” reported Bottas, who was running the soft tyres.

Hamilton, who also didn’t have a perfect lap as he rode the sausage kerbs at Turn 7 after running wide, slotted into third place.

Pierre Gasly had a brief stint up into P1 but it was, as said, brief with Bottas responding to the AlphaTauri driver’s time with a 1:34.2. Esteban Ocon, running the medium tyres, went third.

Romain Grosjean reported that he was “fed up”… “swear word, swear word, swear word”… “almost crashing every corner because there is no balance”.

Gasly was caught out at Turn 15, the off-cambre corner, as he hit a bump and spun his AlphaTauri and narrowly avoided rear-ending the barrier. Hamilton took second place off the Frenchman, 0.2s down on his team-mate’s best.

Max Verstappen, the very last driver to put his name on the timesheet, immediately went second. Clocking the best middle sector, he was only 0.017s off Bottas’ pace, but was lucky not to damage his RB16 as he left the garage.

Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were ninth and 14th after their first run of the morning.

Heading out for a second run on the soft tyres in a qualifying simulation, Bottas upped his pace to a 1:34.0.

Hamilton’s flying lap included a small but notable wide moment at Turn 7, a purple sector in the middle, and a P1 time with a 1:33.2. That was seven-tenths faster than Bottas’ lap time. The track temperature had dropped two degrees between Bottas and Hamilton’s times.

Vettel improved to fourth place with Leclerc P5, 0.2s down. However as more drivers ventured out for qualifying sims, the Ferrari team-mates dropped down the order. Vettel ran wide at the final corner and asked Ferrari to check the “tray for damage”.

Sainz, running McLaren’s old front wing, shot up to third place ahead of Sergio Perez and Verstappen. The Dutchman, though, had yet to put in his qualy sim.

Verstappen put in a flyer, fastest of all in the first sector but lost time in the second. He backed off.

The session ended with Hamilton up on Bottas by almost eight-tenths, Sainz third with Ocon, Perez and Verstappen completing the top six.

Vettel was in the top-ten in seventh place ahead of Lance Stroll, Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo. The Aussie had mirror issues on his hot lap and had to adjust them down the back straight, costing him tenths.

Russian GP FP3 times

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.279 16 laps
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.776s 19 laps
3 Carlos Sainz McLaren 0.817s 17 laps
4 Esteban Ocon Renault 0.960s 13 laps
5 Sergio Perez Racing Point 0.973s 14 laps
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1.027s 11 laps
7 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1.315s 14 laps
8 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1.453s 13 laps
9 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 1.489s 14 laps
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1.508s 12 laps
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.513s 12 laps
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1.527s 14 laps
13 George Russell Williams 1.700s 16 laps
14 Romain Grosjean Haas 1.978s 14 laps
15 Nicholas Latifi Williams 2.013s 14 laps
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas 2.172s 14 laps
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 2.311s 15 laps
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 2.320s 15 laps
19 Alex Albon Red Bull 2.324s 14 laps
20 Lando Norris McLaren 2.702s 17 laps

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