Brazilian GP: Vettel pips Hamilton in final practice

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Brazilian GP: Vettel pips Hamilton in final practice
By: Stuart Codling
Nov 10, 2018, 3:09 PM

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel went fastest in the third practice session for the 2018 Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, beating Lewis Hamilton by 0.2s.

The Ferrari pairing made the early running on the Pirelli supersofts - Vettel fastest of all with a 1m08.857s - but there was little appetite among Ferrari's rivals to emerge from their garages straight away.

A quarter of the session elapsed before the Mercedes of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas hit the track, and Hamilton was instructed to abort his practice start and return to the pits straight away.

The world champion remained in the garage with the engine cover off for a further 15 minutes while the mechanics traced the problem to a dislodged breather pipe.

When he got under way again he was instantly on the pace, clocking a 1m09.098s on the supersofts.

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After a sunny and warm start to the day, the clouds had rolled in ahead of FP3 so while the air was less chilly than it had been on Friday, the track temperatures were only slightly higher than in the first two practice sessions at 33C.

Vettel's early flier remained the benchmark until he surpassed it with a 1m07.948s 40 minutes into the session, half a second up on Bottas's best of 1m08.465s, and a new lap record.

Hamilton took advantage of a brief lull in track activity to punch in a lap just 0.217s shy of Vettel's time, but while he was fastest of all in the second sector he reported that his tyre pressures weren't quite right.

Despite attempting another run, Hamilton failed to improve and had to settle for second, three tenths of a second ahead of teammate Bottas, who edged the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen into fourth place by scarcely three hundredths.

The Red Bulls were the last to run, waiting until the half-way mark before leaving their garages, and each made just two flying laps over the course of one run on supersofts before parking up once more.

Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen slotted in behind the leading group and over a second adrift of Vettel's pace, both complaining of problematic understeer.

Verstappen eventually got the better of Ricciardo in their internecine struggle, but his best time of 1m08.733s on supersofts was still 0.785s off Vettel.

The Saubers of Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson were initially fourth and fifth until they were displaced by the Red Bulls, and Leclerc's hopes of improving his time were briefly thwarted when he was instructed to return to the pits so that the team could investigate a technical issue.

Leclerc hit the road again with 10 minutes to go and found more pace, but it wasn't enough to earn the 'best of the rest' spot as the Haas duo of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, and the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly, slotted in ahead, leaving Leclerc to round out the top 10.

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Laps Time Gap
1 Germany Sebastian Vettel 
Ferrari Ferrari 17 1'07.948  
2 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton 
Mercedes Mercedes 15 1'08.165 0.217
3 Finland Valtteri Bottas 
Mercedes Mercedes 23 1'08.465 0.517
4 Finland Kimi Raikkonen 
Ferrari Ferrari 17 1'08.490 0.542
5 Netherlands Max Verstappen 
Red Bull TAG 12 1'08.733 0.785
6 Australia Daniel Ricciardo 
Red Bull TAG 12 1'08.788 0.840
7 Denmark Kevin Magnussen 
Haas Ferrari 14 1'09.146 1.198
8 France Romain Grosjean 
Haas Ferrari 16 1'09.257 1.309
9 France Pierre Gasly 
Toro Rosso Honda 22 1'09.402 1.454
10 Monaco Charles Leclerc 
Sauber Ferrari 21 1'09.448 1.500
11 Germany Nico Hulkenberg 
Renault Renault 19 1'09.461 1.513
12 France Esteban Ocon 
Force India Mercedes 18 1'09.588 1.640
13 Sweden Marcus Ericsson 
Sauber Ferrari 23 1'09.808 1.860
14 Spain Carlos Sainz 
Renault Renault 17 1'09.864 1.916
15 Russian Federation Sergey Sirotkin 
Williams Mercedes 14 1'09.885 1.937
16 New Zealand Brendon Hartley 
Toro Rosso Honda 18 1'09.985 2.037
17 Canada Lance Stroll 
Williams Mercedes 17 1'10.001 2.053
18 Spain Fernando Alonso 
McLaren Renault 15 1'10.020 2.072
19 Mexico Sergio Perez 
Force India Mercedes 18 1'10.116 2.168
20 Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne 
McLaren Renault 16 1'10.289 2.341
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About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Brazilian GP
Author Stuart Codling
Article type Practice report