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Sochi, FP3: Hamilton leads the way in final practice for Russian Grand Prix

Bottas 2nd, Sainz 3rd

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By Olivier Ferret

26 September 2020 - 12:03
Sochi, FP3: Hamilton leads the way (...)

Lewis Hamilton headed a Mercedes one-two in final practice for Formula 1’s Russian Grand Prix beating team-mate Valtteri Bottas by almost eight tenths of a second. McLaren’s Carlos Sainz finished third, just fourth hundredths of a second behind Bottas.

The Mercedes drivers were to the fore from the start of the session, with Bottas leading the way on soft tyres with a lap of 1:35.183. Hamilton, on the same compound, was two tenths off the pace after a mistake on his opening run led to a second attempt.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen didn’t appear until the session had almost reach the halfway point. When he did emerge from the team’s garage he did so on soft tyres and on his first flying lap he split the Mercedes with a lap of 1:34.306, just 0.017s off Bottas’ early benchmark.

There was brief pause as drivers prepared for their final qualifying simulations. Bottas was quickly back on track and he returned to the top of the order with a lap of 1:34.055. Hamilton though was behind the Finn on track and with a much tidier lap reclaimed top spot with a blistering lap of 1:33.279 to eclipse his team-mate by almost eight tenths of a second. Sainz then moved to third place ahead of Verstappen with a good lap of 1:34.096.

After displaying good pace early in the session, Verstappen looked set to challenge Mercedes again as he went quickest of all in Sector 1 at the start of his qualifying run. However, he lost a large amount time in second sector, possible through traffic, and backed out of the remainder of the lap.

That allowed Renault’s Esteban Ocon and Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez to steal fourth and fifth places respectively, with Verstappen being shuffled down to sixth place.

Verstappen’s team-mate Alex Albon also failed to get the most out of his qualifying sim. The Thai driver went wide in Turn 2 and had his lap deleted for a track limits infringement. He would finish in P19.

Seventh place in the session went to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with the four-time champion finishing five place and two tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Charles Leclerc. Lance Stroll took eighth place ahead of Daniil Kvyat and the final top 10 place went to Daniel Ricciardo.

The Australian suffered a bizarre technical problem on his final flying lap as his right side mirror twisted around and he lost time as he frequently adjusted the mirror arm.

Pos.DriverCarTimeLaps
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W11 1:33.279 16
02 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W11 1:34.055 19
03 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault MCL35 1:34.096 17
04 Esteban Ocon Renault RS20 1:34.239 13
05 Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes RP20 1:34.252 14
06 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16 1:34.306 11
07 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari SF1000 1:34.594 14
08 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes RP20 1:34.732 13
09 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri Honda AT01 1:34.768 14
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault RS20 1:37.787 12
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT01 1:34.792 12
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF1000 1:34.806 14
13 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43 1:34.979 16
14 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari VF-20 1:35.257 14
15 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43 1:35.292 14
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-20 1:35.451 14
17 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39 1:35.590 15
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39 1:35.599 15
19 Alex Albon Red Bull Honda RB16 1:35.735 14
20 Lando Norris McLaren Renault MCL35 1:35.981 17

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