Valtteri Bottas finished on top of the time charts of the third free practice session (FP3) at the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday. Sebastian Vettel was in second-place, 0.392 seconds behind him. Charles Leclerc was just 0.026 seconds slower than his team-mate. Lewis Hamilton had a scruffy run on both his flying laps and finished well behind his team-mate Bottas. Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top five positions at the end of the session.
Alexander Albon had a heavy crash with five minutes of the session left. Albon came out of the last corner on his flying lap and lost control of his Toro Rosso car and crashed into the outside barrier. The session was immediately red-flagged and ended prematurely.
The sixty-minute long practice session started under clear skies with the track temperature at thirty-nine degrees C. The Pirelli tyre choice for this race is the white-striped hard tyres (C2), the yellow-striped medium tyres (C3) and the red-striped soft tyres (C4) from the middle of the Pirelli range of tyres.
Sebastian Vettel Goes To The Top Of The Time Charts
The Williams Racing drivers, Robert Kubica and George Russell, were the first drivers to set timed laps. Russell was on top of the time charts with a lap time of 1:36.630s. The rest of the drivers after their installation laps were sitting in the garage waiting for the track to rubber down.
Fifteen minutes into the session, Daniel Ricciardo went quickest on a set of medium compound tyres with a lap time of 1:35.142s. But the Scuderia Ferrari drivers on the soft tyres immediately overhauled the Australian on their first runs.
Vettel moved to the top of the time charts with a lap time of 1:33.222s. Leclerc was a good 0.882 seconds behind him.
Thirty minutes into the session, all the drivers, except the Red Bull Racing drivers, were finally on the track. Hamilton slotted between Vettel and Leclerc. Bottas on his first runs moved into third position. Albon was “best of the rest” at this stage.
Finally the Red Bull drivers were on the track with Max Verstappen going to fifth position on a set of soft tyres, 1.225 seconds behind the leader. Pierre Gasly slotted into eleventh position.
The Haas F1 Team drivers and Alfa Romeo Racing drivers were at the bottom of the time charts, just ahead of the Williams drivers.
The Qualification Simulation Starts
With fifteen minutes of the seesion left, all the drivers were on the soft tyres and started their qualification simulation runs. Lando Norris moved up the time charts into eighth position on his first flying lap.
Vettel on his first flying lap did not improve on his time. Both Norris and Vettel had trouble keeping the car on the track as they came out of the last corner due to the cross-winds. Bottas then went to the top of the time charts with his first flying lap on the soft tyres.
Hamilton aborted his first flying lap after a mistake in the second sector. The second flying lap was also scruffy as he finished only fourth on the time charts with a lap time of 1:33.689s. The Briton was 0.859 seconds behind Bottas. Nico Hulkenberg went fifth after his flying lap.
Alexander Albon Crashes
Albon on his flying lap lost control as he came out of the last corner and had a heavy crash as he hit the outside barrier. Albon was unhurt, but the heavily damaged car meant he would have any chance to be ready for qualification in two hours time.
The session was red-flagged and ended with five minutes left. Many of the drivers had not finished their final flying laps. The session ended with Bottas on top, with Vettel, Leclerc, Hamilton and Hulkenberg behind him.
Kimi Raikkonen had improved to sixth position on his flying lap ahead of Verstappen, Carlos Sainz Jr. and the two Toro Rosso drivers.
In qualification, the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers will be dueling for pole position. Hamilton looked out of sorts and Bottas is in better form. Vettel seemed to have the better of his teammate Leclerc.
2019 Chinese Grand Prix Free Practice 3 Results:
|6||7||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:34.246||+1.416s||14|
|7||33||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:34.447||+1.617s||5|
|9||23||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||1:34.600||+1.770s||11|
|10||26||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||1:34.783||+1.953s||10|
|12||11||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||1:35.078||+2.248s||9|
|14||18||Racing Point BWT Mercedes||1:35.223||+2.393s||10|
|15||10||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:35.326||+2.496s||8|
|16||99||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:35.726||+2.896s||12|