Lewis Hamilton completed a hat-trick of fastest free practices in Austin this weekend, going a tenth of a second faster than Sebastian Vettel, while Haas’ troubled weekend continued with an accident for Romain Grosjean.
Vettel was keen to make up for lost time, having lost the majority of running time in yesterday’s second practice with a faulty axle, and queued behind Max Verstappen waiting for the lights to go green at the start of the session.
The Ferrari driver’s enthusiasm could not help abate the strong pace of Hamilton’s Mercedes, who not only went fastest overall, but continued to hold an advantage over team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was two tenths behind in third. It was also another new F1 track record for the Brit, breaking the benchmark set by himself during yesterday’s running.
Another theme to continue from yesterday was stability issues for the Haas cars. Both cars had spun in second practice while suffering with bargeboard issues, and exiting the set of high speed chicanes in the first sector at the halfway mark of final practice, Romain Grosjean dropped the rear of his car through Turn 7. His session immediately came to an end, beached in the gravel trap and causing a brief virtual safety car.
Felipe Massa was the ‘best of the rest’, pipping both Renaults for the sixth fastest time with only two minutes remaining. Their final positions were aided by Daniel Ricciardo making a mistake at Turn 9 on his last gasp glory run, putting him only ninth quickest. Both Force Indias spent all but the dying moments of the session on the less favoured supersoft compound.
Daniil Kvyat‘s return was made harder by an unspecified issue with the front of his Toro Rosso. Complaining of his steering suddenly going heavy, he pulled into the garage early and was sidelined for the remainder of the session.
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:35.103||+0.625||14|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Renault||1:35.650||+1.172||16|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:35.723||+1.245||17|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:35.802||+1.324||16|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Force India||1:35.965||+1.487||17|
|15||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||1:36.818||+2.340||26|
|20||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:38.500||+4.022||6|