FP3: Hamilton puts in stunning lap to top final practice in Sochi ahead of Bottas and Sainz
Lewis Hamilton broke Valtteri Bottas’s run of free practice domination in Sochi by topping the final session ahead of the Russian Grand Prix by a considerable margin of 0.776s over his Mercedes team mate, with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz 0.817s off the defending champion.
Bottas, who was quickest in both FP1 and FP2 on Friday, was fastest after 40 minutes, when the session quietened down as teams readied their cars for qualifying runs. Then the time attacks began and Bottas improved, but it was Hamilton who set the final benchmark of 1m33.279s – making up four-tenths in the middle sector alone.
Carlos Sainz set a late flyer to go an impressive third-fastest for McLaren, narrowly behind Bottas and more than a tenth ahead of Renault’s Esteban Ocon.
Our Friday ideal lap analysis showed that Sergio Perez left time on the table in FP2 and he delivered on Saturday morning to go fifth in FP3 - the last driver within a second of Hamilton.
FORMULA 1 VTB RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX 2020
Practice 3 results
|1 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes||1:33.279|
|2 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes||+0.776s|
|3 Carlos Sainz SAI McLaren||+0.817s|
|4 Esteban Ocon OCO Renault||+0.960s|
|5 Sergio Perez PER Racing Point||+0.973s|
Max Verstappen spent most of the session on soft tyres, perhaps with the intention of saving a set of mediums for qualifying. The Red Bull driver was second until the qualifying runs, when he set a fastest first sector but was then slowed down by traffic. His team mate Alex Albon had his fastest time deleted for overstepping track limits, leaving him down in 19th, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris who was unable to get a clean lap in through the session.
Sebastian Vettel ended seventh for Ferrari with a brilliant flying effort, but damaged his floor going wide on the last corner. He finished ahead of Lance Stroll – who had a better day to get inside the top 10 after a difficult FP2 on Friday afternoon.
Daniil Kvyat took ninth for AlphaTauri, his team mate Pierre Gasly spinning early on and then encountering traffic late in the session to take P11. Between them was Renault's Daniel Ricciardo, finishing outside the top three for the first time this weekend – though he was slowed by a problem with his wing mirror, and was seen trying to adjust it mid-lap at one point during the session.
Charles Leclerc managed P12, just ahead of Williams' George Russell, as he couldnt match his Ferrari team mate Vettel – though only two-tenths separated the Scuderia duo.
A generally irate Romain Grosjean had a late spin at Turn 15, but ended the session a solid 14th for Haas despite repeated radio calls to him engineer complaining of problems with the car. His team mate Kevin Magnussen took 16th – with Williams’ Nicholas Latifi between them on the board.
The Alfa Romeo pair followed Magnussen on the timesheets, Antonio Giovinazzi just under two-tenths faster than team mate Kimi Raikkonen.
So with practice now finished, Mercedes certainly look in control, but the track is evolving, temperatures are rising, and qualifying is still to come – with many drivers still yet to show their true outright pace after mistakes and traffic issues in FP3. Stay tuned to F1.com as qualifying begins at 1500 local time - and be sure to change your F1 Fantasy team to be in with a chance of winning some massive prizes.