French GP: Bottas beats Hamilton by 0.041s in FP3

Valtteri Bottas bested Lewis Hamilton by 0.041s in the final Formula 1 practice session ahead of qualifying for the French Grand Prix.

French GP: Bottas beats Hamilton by 0.041s in FP3

Mercedes’ command of the Paul Ricard event continued in FP3 as the two Silver Arrows enjoyed a four-tenth advantage over the Ferraris.

Charles Leclerc edged the internal fight at Ferrari, which at least appears well clear of Red Bull – the lead RB15 of Max Verstappen was 1.3s off the pace.

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Bottas, who set the pace in Friday’s second practice session, led the way after the first runs on Saturday as he posted a 1m30.853s to lead Hamilton by 0.25s.

By this point the Ferraris already looked a little too far behind, although Leclerc had lapped only a hundredth slower than Hamilton.

When everybody switched to a fresh set of soft tyres though for the second runs, Mercedes’ flexed its muscles further.

Both its drivers made mistakes, with Hamilton aborting his first run after a wobble exiting the Turn 6 right-hander before the long back straight.

In the meantime, Bottas extended his advantage by nailing a 1m30.159s on his first lap of the second run.

Bottas then locked up on his second effort, while Hamilton hooked a lap together – albeit with a slower first sector – that yielded a 1m30.200s.

Behind the Mercedes duo, Leclerc’s 1m30.605s on the first lap using his second set of tyres was enough to anchor third place heading into qualifying.

Vettel was two tenths adrift after his first flying lap on fresh softs but whittled that gap down to just 0.028s with an improvement on his next effort.

Though Ferrari looks too far behind Mercedes to challenge in qualifying, it does not appear under threat from Red Bull.

Verstappen’s best lap of 1m31.538s came after constant complaints about a lack of grip, and was not even a tenth quicker than teammate Pierre Gasly could manage.

A similar margin covered Gasly to the next-quickest car, which like on Friday was the McLaren of Lando Norris.

McLaren’s chunky advantage over the rest of the midfield has closed overnight, with Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo splitting the MCL34s in eighth – 0.18s slower than Norris.

Carlos Sainz finished the session ninth, while Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo completed the top 10.

The 60-minute session passed without major incident, and the only real problem struck the Williams of George Russell.

Williams’s reigning Formula 2 champion propped up the times 9.8s off the pace with just four laps to his name after a loss of power early on.

Session results

Cla # Driver Laps Time Gap Interval km/h
1 77 Finland Valtteri Bottas 18 1'30.159     233.267
2 44 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton 15 1'30.200 0.041 0.041 233.161
3 16 Monaco Charles Leclerc 15 1'30.605 0.446 0.405 232.119
4 5 Germany Sebastian Vettel 13 1'30.633 0.474 0.028 232.047
5 33 Netherlands Max Verstappen 11 1'31.538 1.379 0.905 229.753
6 10 France Pierre Gasly 14 1'31.599 1.440 0.061 229.600
7 4 United Kingdom Lando Norris 14 1'31.654 1.495 0.055 229.462
8 3 Australia Daniel Ricciardo 12 1'31.802 1.643 0.148 229.093
9 55 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. 14 1'31.887 1.728 0.085 228.881
10 7 Finland Kimi Raikkonen 16 1'31.943 1.784 0.056 228.741
11 27 Germany Nico Hulkenberg 15 1'32.023 1.864 0.080 228.542
12 99 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi 15 1'32.171 2.012 0.148 228.175
13 23 Thailand Alex Albon 16 1'32.178 2.019 0.007 228.158
14 8 France Romain Grosjean 15 1'32.385 2.226 0.207 227.647
15 20 Denmark Kevin Magnussen 13 1'32.400 2.241 0.015 227.610
16 11 Mexico Sergio Perez 15 1'32.491 2.332 0.091 227.386
17 26 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat 22 1'32.540 2.381 0.049 227.266
18 18 Canada Lance Stroll 14 1'32.678 2.519 0.138 226.927
19 88 Poland Robert Kubica 21 1'33.902 3.743 1.224 223.969
20 63 United Kingdom George Russell 4 1'39.987 9.828 6.085 210.339
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About this article

Series Formula 1
Event French GP
Sub-event FP3
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Valtteri Bottas , Charles Leclerc
Teams Mercedes
Author Scott Mitchell
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