French GP: Bottas leads Sainz in rained-out FP3

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French GP: Bottas leads Sainz in rained-out FP3
Scott Mitchell
By: Scott Mitchell
Jun 23, 2018, 12:06 PM

Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas set the pace in final practice for the French Grand Prix, which was mostly devoid of action after unexpected rain.

Lance Stroll, Williams FW41
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H, leads Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, and Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-18, under a cloudy sky
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09
Lance Stroll, Williams FW41
Brendon Hartley, Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13
Sergio Perez, Force India VJM11 runs wide
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33, returns to the pits
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14, returns to the pits

Bottas set a 1m33.666s in the first round of flying laps in the opening five minutes, more than a second slower than teammate Lewis Hamilton's Friday benchmark.

A wet FP3 was not predicted after Friday practice took place in hot, sunny conditions, however rain started to fall at parts of the circuit shortly after Bottas's time and Sergio Perez skated off the road at Turn 4 as the track got more and more slippery.

By 10 minutes, rain was falling across the entire circuit, and the teams ordered their drivers back to the garage – with no action for another 40 minutes.

Renault's Carlos Sainz and Sauber driver Charles Leclerc managed to get a representative lap in during the initial three-lap runs, improving on their FP2 times, to go second and third behind Bottas.

Drivers from Fernando Alonso in fourth down to Kimi Raikkonen in 13th all set times, but nothing like the sort of pace shown on Friday.

The track remained silent until the very end of the session, despite F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn telling Sky Sports F1 that qualifying is expected to feature a "heavy thunderstorm" and the race will also be wet.

This lack of running is probably explained by teams not wanting to waste the limited number of tyres they have for qualifying and the race.

The FIA did not make an additional set of intermediate tyres available to each driver for FP3 because it did not expect it to be a wet session.

Alonso was the first driver to head out onto the track on full wet tyres with just over 10 minutes to go.

He returned to the pits immediately before Williams drivers Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll managed to complete one flying lap each on the extremely wet circuit.

Stroll went wide at Turn 7 while Sirotkin went straight on at the Turn 8 chicane but they at least set a time, albeit 28 and 30 seconds off the pace respectively.

The Haas drivers, Brendon Hartley, Nico Hulkenberg and Max Verstappen ended the session without a time to their names.

Hartley completed just an out-lap and an in-lap as he shook down the new Honda engine he has had to use after a Friday failure, which has also condemned him to a back-of-the-grid start.

Hartley and his Toro Rosso teammate Pierre Gasly joined Leclerc and McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne in heading out in the final couple of minutes to explore the track and scrub in a set of wets.

Marcus Ericsson did not join Sauber teammate Leclerc on-track late on and managed just three laps in his new chassis, required after a fiery FP1 crash, at the start of this session.

ClaDriverChassisEngineLapsTimeGapkm/h
1 finland Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes Mercedes 3 1'33.666   224.533
2 spain Carlos Sainz  Renault Renault 3 1'34.953 1.287 221.490
3 monaco Charles Leclerc  Sauber Ferrari 5 1'35.012 1.346 221.353
4 spain Fernando Alonso  McLaren Renault 4 1'36.365 2.699 218.245
5 germany Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 5 1'36.756 3.090 217.363
6 belgium Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren Renault 4 1'37.547 3.881 215.600
7 france Pierre Gasly  Toro Rosso Honda 5 1'38.317 4.651 213.912
8 sweden Marcus Ericsson  Sauber Ferrari 3 1'38.450 4.784 213.623
9 mexico Sergio Perez  Force India Mercedes 4 1'39.641 5.975 211.069
10 australia Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull TAG 3 1'39.738 6.072 210.864
11 france Esteban Ocon  Force India Mercedes 4 1'40.087 6.421 210.129
12 united_kingdom Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 3 1'40.743 7.077 208.760
13 finland Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari Ferrari 3 1'49.711 16.045 191.696
14 canada Lance Stroll  Williams Mercedes 4 2'02.399 28.733 171.824
15 russia Sergey Sirotkin  Williams Mercedes 5 2'04.093 30.427 169.479
16 denmark Kevin Magnussen  Haas Ferrari 1 no time -
17 new_zealand Brendon Hartley  Toro Rosso Honda 3 no time
18 france Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 1 no time 
19 germany Nico Hulkenberg  Renault Renault 2 no time 
20 netherlands Max Verstappen  Red Bull TAG 3 no time 
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About this article

Series Formula 1
Event French GP
Location Circuit Paul Ricard
Author Scott Mitchell
Article type Practice report