Brazilian GP - Saturday - Practice Session 3 Report


Valtteri Bottas, Brazilian GP 2017

Valtteri Bottas, Brazilian GP 2017 

 © RV Press


By Dan Knutson in Interlagos

Lewis Hamilton turned the fastest lap times during Friday's practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix, but it was his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas who came out on top of Saturday morning's session, albeit by the infinitesimal gap of 0.003 of a second. Ferrari had been half a second adrift of Mercedes on Friday, but Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were a mere 0.045 and 0.058 of a second respectively slower on Saturday.

The lineup for the weekend was: Mercedes – Hamilton and Bottas; Red Bull TAG Heuer – Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; Ferrari – Vettel and Raikkonen; Force India Mercedes – Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; Williams Mercedes – Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll; McLaren Honda – Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Renault – Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz; Toro Rosso Renault – Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley; Haas Ferrari – Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; Sauber Ferrari – Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

As stated, Hamilton was quickest in the dry in both of Friday's practice sessions, with his best time being a 1:09.202 using Pirelli's super soft compound slicks. It was the fastest lap ever at the Interlagos track.

The Mercedes was quick in any conditions.

"The long runs are good," Hamilton said at the end of Friday's activities. "There was a good setup change between sessions. We were good here last year in the wet, so here we go."

The ambient temperature at the start of the 60-minute FP3 session on Saturday was 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Centigrade). There was a 30 percent chance of rain.

Sainz and Ericsson led a pack of cars out on track.

But most drivers just did an install lap, and some like Bottas and Hamilton did not go out at all in the first 10 minutes. Stroll went out and stop on track at Turn 6. "I lost drive," he radioed back to the Williams pit.

Only four drivers set times in the first 15 minutes with Hartley fastest with a 1:12.089. But then things finally started to get busy and Raikkonen sped to a 1:09.928 followed by a 1:09.646 and a 1:09.633 on the super soft tires.

Vettel, also on the super softs, was 0.040 of a second slower and in second place. Hamilton, Bottas and Alonso, using the soft compound Pirellis, were third, fourth and fifth.

Ocon, Vandoorne, Sainz, Hulkenberg and Perez rounded out the top 10 at the halfway point.

The Red Bull drivers, who had to save mileage on their engines, had only done one lap each.

Ricciardo started his first flying lap with 25 minutes to go in FP3. He was on the super soft tires as he took tenth place a second off Raikkonen's pace. Verstappen's first run was on the softs and put him seventh.

Now others were out on the super softs, and Bottas claimed first place with a 1:09.569. Raikkonen came back with a 1:09.399 before Vettel pounded in a 1:09.339. Hamilton was now second, 0.014 of a second slower.

Then Raikkonen shaved the lead time down to a 1:09.326. Bottas beat that with his 1:09.281. He was now 0.003 of a second ahead of Hamilton in second. Raikkonen, Vettel, Alonso, Verstappen and Ricciardo rounded out the top seven with a dozen minutes remaining.

The final top 10 ended up as: Bottas, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Vettel, Ricciardo, Alonso, Perez, Ocon, Verstappen (who had a spin) and Sainz.

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