Belgian GP Practice Three: Sebastian Vettel leads Ferrari one-two
Ferrari stay ahead of Mercedes, but not by much; McLarens slowest of all and Vandoorne spins out after Bottas near-miss
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 06/12/18 11:24am
Sebastian Vettel headed an impressive Ferrari one-two in final practice at the Belgian GP as the championship chasers continued to outpace title leaders Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton.
Ferrari have headed all three practice sessions at an event for the first time this season and, while their P3 margin over Mercedes was a mere 0.137s over the season's longest lap, they appear the team to beat heading into qualifying.
Friday pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen had proved the quicker of the Ferraris for much of P3, but Vettel edged ahead by 0.063s with a new fastest lap of the weekend - 1:42.661.
Hamilton, who leads Vettel by 24 points and won at Spa last year, was third and still appears in the hunt to battle the Ferraris for pole.
Further comparisons at the end of the season were scuppered by a red-flag when Stoffel Vandoorne spun into the barriers on the Kemmel Straight after attempting to overtake the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.
The McLaren was much faster than the Mercedes into the straight, but Bottas took the normal racing line just as Vandoorne was attempting to overtake on the outside and the McLaren ran onto the grass and spun across the circuit.
"What the hell was that Mercedes doing?" said an agitated Vandoorne. "He pushed me onto the grass?"
Bottas said over the radio: "Okay, I didn't see him."
Vandoorne, who brushed the barriers, had been attempting to follow team-mate Fernando Alonso, who was ahead of Bottas on the road, with McLaren practising tows during P3 in an attempt to find more straight-line speed from their 'draggy' MCL33 car.
McLaren's drivers were slowest of all, although the team were the only ones to set their quickest time on the medium compound - the slowest available.
The stewards are investigating the incident after the session. Bottas, who was fourth fastest, is starting at the back of the field owing to engine penalties.
Meanwhile, Red Bull lapped closer to the pace of the midfield runners than Ferrari and Mercedes with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo 1.4s and 1.8s off the leading pace respectively. After both RB14s ran skinny rear wings on Friday, Ricciardo has taken a higher-downforce version for Saturday.
The impressive Charles Leclerc was seventh for Sauber ahead of the Force Indias and Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, who also has an engine penalty and will start on the back row next to Bottas.
Qualifying begins at 2pm live on Sky Sports F1, with build-up from 1pm.
Belgian GP Practice Three Timesheet
|1) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||Supersoft||1:42.661|
|2) Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||Supersoft||+0.063|
|3). Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Supersoft||+0.137|
|4) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||Supersoft||+0.803|
|5) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||Supersoft||+1.387|
|6) Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||Soft||+1.818|
|7) Charles Leclerc||Sauber||Supersoft||+2.302|
|8) Sergio Perez||Force India||Soft||+2.680|
|9) Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||Supersoft||+2.803|
|10) Esteban Ocon||Force India||Soft||+2.824|
|11) Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||Supersoft||+2.875|
|12) Romain Grosjean||Haas||Soft||+3.153|
|13) Carlos Sainz||Renault||Soft||+3.264|
|14) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||Soft||+3.426|
|15) Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||Supersoft||+3.521|
|16) Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||Supersoft||+3.598|
|17) Lance Stroll||Williams||Supersoft||+3.841|
|18) Sergey Sirotkin||Williams||Supersoft||+3.969|
|19) Fernando Alonso||McLaren||Medium||+4.281|
|20) Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||Medium||+4.400|