Mercedes made it a third one-two of the Spanish Grand Prix weekend as Lewis Hamilton beat Valtteri Bottas in Free Practice 3, while Esteban Ocon brought out the red flags at the end of the session with a late crash that saw him rip the front wing off his Renault while trying to avoid a slower car on track.
High track temperatures of 47 degrees Celsius put a strain on the tyres throughout the session – a running trend this weekend as it was last week at Silverstone – and such was the demand for cooling, the Mercedes’ pair were told to drive under the shade of the grandstands on the pit straight to cool their searing soft compounds.
With just over 10 of 60 minutes remaining, Hamilton set his fastest lap of 1m17.222s – which could have been faster if not for some oversteer in the final corner – and it was 0.151s faster than Bottas’s best time. By this time, the track had evolved with layers of rubber from the quickly-wearing tyres and times were tumbling with every driver using soft compounds for their flying efforts.
Max Verstappen then set his fastest lap to go 0.515s off top spot in third, ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz who set his lap of 1m18.046s with 20 minutes left of the session. Sainz had cooling issues at Silverstone and a chassis change did little to rectify that, so a new Renault power unit was fitted to the Spaniard’s car with no penalty before FP3 in a bid to solve the problem.
FORMULA 1 ARAMCO GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA 2020
Practice 3 results
|1 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes||1:17.222|
|2 Valtteri BOTTAS Mercedes||+0.151s|
|3 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing||+0.515s|
|4 Carlos SAINZ McLaren||+0.824s|
|5 Sergio PEREZ Racing Point||+0.874s|
Sergio Perez took fifth place on his Racing Point return, just five-hundredths off Sainz and a tenth faster than Ferrari’s sixth-place Charles Leclerc. Team mate Sebastian Vettel – running a new chassis this weekend – was half a second off Leclerc in P12, having expressed some optimism after a solid Friday.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly was the final driver under a second away from Hamilton’s time, in P7, with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll narrowly behind for P8.
With the sesion about to wrap up, Esteban Ocon found himself dodging a slow-going Kevin Magnussen on the run-up to Turn 4. Ocon spun in avoidance and hit the wall on the right-hand-side, ripping off his front wing and bringing out a red flag to end the session with a couple of minutes left on the clock. The Renault mechanics will now be frantically working to repair the car before qualifying begins in less than two hours.
Ocon ended up 11th quickest before his crash, over 0.2s behind team mate Daniel Ricciardo as Alex Albon took P9 for Red Bull in this session.
Romain Grosjean took a new engine after a failure at the end of FP2 but couldn’t replicate his brilliant P5 in that session and ended up 13th, just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who improved very late in the session for P14 in his Alfa Romeo.
Lando Norris could only manage 15th, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat. Antonio Giovinazzi took P18 ahead of the two Williams, with George Russell ahead of Nicholas Latifi.
As 21 of 29 Grands Prix at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya have been won from pole position, qualifying at 1500 local time will be crucial. Follow all the action right here on F1.com with live commentary and timing from the session.
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