Formula 1

Hamilton fastest in F1 Spanish GP FP3 as Bottas, Vettel, Russell spin

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Lewis Hamilton - Formula 1 - 2019 Spanish GP
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man in final Free Practice for the Spanish Grand Prix, completing a clean sweep of the Free Practice sessions for Mercedes AMG Motorsport.

Hamilton’s best time, a 1:16.568, was 0.531 seconds clear of second-placed man Scuderia Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc, with Hamilton and Leclerc’s respective team-mates Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel close behind in third and fourth.

Both Bottas and Vettel suffered spins of differing magnitudes, with the Finn’s off at Turn 5 on cold tyres needing a brief red flag period in order to extract the car from the gravel trap with around two-thirds of the hour-long session left – however, Bottas returned to the track once his car was brought back to the pits.

Minutes prior to Bottas’s excursion, Vettel spun at the final chicane on a cool-down lap just moments after he had displaced Leclerc at the top of the standings by a fraction over a tenth-of-a-second.

All the frontrunners set their best times on the soft compound tyres in a qualifying simulation that took place in cooler, cloudier conditions at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with the track temperature sitting around 9°C lower than Friday afternoon.

The Ferraris set the early pace with Vettel and Leclerc trading times in the first 15 minutes, their advantage truncated by Hamilton’s first flying lap – the reigning world champion going 0.6 seconds clear on the medium tyres.

In the final quarter of the early afternoon session Bottas started an intense qualifying simulation period, but saw his first attempt hampered in the final sector by Vettel’s preparation lap.

The championship leader was immediately displaced by Leclerc and then by Hamilton’s scorching time, Vettel unable to get within 0.5 seconds a few hundred metres behind him.

Bottas tried to claw back the deficit but could only split the Ferraris, with the Haas F1 Team duo of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen storming ahead of Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen and Scuderia Toro Rosso‘s Alexander Albon.

Verstappen expressed his displeasure in being distracted at the final chicane by Lance Stroll, parking his car on the apex of Turn 1 as the Canadian started a fast lap.

The action was closed by George Russell‘s light collision with the tyre wall at Turn 3, the Williams Racing driver prompting a second and final red flag with five minutes of the session remaining.

Kimi Räikkönen and Carlos Sainz Jr. rounded out the top ten for Alfa Romeo Racing and the McLaren F1 Team respectively.

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