Verstappen fastest as Leclerc hits trouble in Free Practice 3 at the US GP

by Sudha Sundararaj

Max Verstappen headed the third free practice session, 0.218 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel in second position at the 2019 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. Lando Norris was a further 0.295 seconds behind in third position as the teams go into the all-important qualification session this evening.

The sixty-minute long third free practice session started under clear skies with air temperatures at 18 degrees C and track temperatures at 25 degrees C.

The Pirelli tyre choice at this race is the white-striped hard compound tyres (C2), yellow-striped medium compound tyres (C3), and red-striped soft compound tyres (C4).

The drivers went out on the soft and medium compound tyres on their installation laps. Fifteen minutes into the session, Romain Grosjean was the first driver to set a timed lap with a lap time of 1m 36.579s.

Charles Leclerc pulled off the track at Turn 19 with an engine issue on his first lap and the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) was deployed. The Ferrari mechanics were frantically working on his car for the rest of the session.

Valtteri Bottas with a lap time of 1m 24.558s went to the top of the time charts and set the early pace ahead of Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.

The bumps on the track were clearly evident as the drivers negotiated the tricky surface at COTA. With 30 minutes to go in the session, Vettel replaced Bottas at the top of the time charts with Verstappen just 0.017 seconds behind him, ahead of the two Mercedes drivers.

Carlos Sainz with a good lap was in fifth position. With strict enforcement of track limits at this race, one of Vettel’s fastest laps was deleted.

With 15 minutes to go, the drivers were all out on the track doing the final qualification simulations. Verstappen set the fastest lap of the session with a lap time of 1m 33.005s to go top by 0.218s ahead of Vettel.

Lando Norris then surprisingly went third on the time charts just 0.513s behind the leader. Both the Mercedes drivers, Bottas and Hamilton, were surprisingly languishing in fourth and fifth positions.

Alexander Albon was in sixth position ahead of Sainz in seventh position. Kimi Räikkönen took eighth position ahead of Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo.

The teams are all set for the qualification session with Verstappen and Vettel leading the way. The Mercedes drivers in this session did not look to have the same pace as the Red Bull Racing and Ferrari drivers. The shootout for pole position will be very close based on the indications of this practice session.

2019 United States Grand Prix Free Practice 3 Results:

PosNoDriverCarTimeGapLaps
133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda01:33.30513
25Sebastian VettelFerrari01:33.523+0.218s17
34Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault01:33.818+0.513s14
477Valtteri BottasMercedes01:33.904+0.599s17
544Lewis HamiltonMercedes01:33.923+0.618s16
623Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing Honda01:33.983+0.678s14
755Carlos SainzMcLaren Renault01:34.408+1.103s15
87Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari01:34.513+1.208s18
910Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda01:34.517+1.212s14
103Daniel RicciardoRenault01:34.774+1.469s11
1127Nico HulkenbergRenault01:34.784+1.479s11
1218Lance StrollRacing Point BWT Mercedes01:34.792+1.487s14
138Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari01:34.849+1.544s17
1426Daniil KvyatScuderia Toro Rosso Honda01:35.129+1.824s16
1520Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari01:35.305+2.000s14
1699Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari01:35.956+2.651s15
1763George RussellWilliams Mercedes01:36.256+2.951s15
1888Robert KubicaWilliams Mercedes01:36.628+3.323s17
1911Sergio PerezRacing Point BWT Mercedes01:38.426+5.121s22
2016Charles LeclercFerrari1

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