French GP, Practice Three: Valtteri Bottas ahead of Lewis Hamilton
Bottas 0.04s ahead of Hamilton; Ferrari fight back, but still four tenths off; Red Bull well off the pace; Watch qualy at 2pm on Sky F1
By Matt Morlidge at Paul Ricard
Last Updated: 22/06/19 2:09pm
Valtteri Bottas held a slender advantage over team-mate Lewis Hamilton in final practice for the French GP as Mercedes completed a dominant hat-trick ahead of qualifying.
Mercedes have topped every session this weekend, but the battle for pole looks closer than ever with Bottas just four hundredths of a second faster than Hamilton.
Bottas, second in the championship behind Hamilton, set a blistering 1:31.159 which was only a tenth shy of the Paul Ricard track record.
Ferrari improved on their Friday form and after the first runs on soft tyres, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were right in contention, but eventually finished 0.4s behind the front-running Mercedes.
The Scuderia have removed some of their upgrades for the weekend, including their new floor, but have kept their updated front and rear wings, and were actually quicker than Mercedes in the first two sectors.
But Bottas and Hamilton flourished in the twisty final sector and are certainly the favourites for qualifying, which starts at 2pm on Sky Sports F1.
Red Bull under threat from midfield?
Red Bull, who have an upgraded Honda engine this weekend, were well off the pace, with Max Verstappen some 1.3seconds down on the leading time. Team-mate Pierre Gasly was just behind in sixth as both drivers struggled for grip.
It seems Verstappen and Gasly will be looking nervously over their shoulders rather than forwards in qualifying and could be set to battle McLaren and Renault.
British rookie Lando Norris continued his impressive form to finish Practice Three in seventh, a tenth behind Verstappen and ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and team-mate Carlos Sainz.
Kimi Raikkonen completed the top 10 for Alfa Romeo, ahead of Hulkenberg in the other Renault.
Haas, meanwhile, have a fight on their hands if they are to make Q3. Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were only 14th and 15th, and haven't really troubled their midfield rivals all weekend.
Racing Point have also struggled, and are only ahead of the Williams.
George Russell propped up the timesheets as he suffered an engine issue, the last thing Williams need as their poor pace continues.
French GP Practice Three Timesheet
|1) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1:30.159|
|2) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+0.041|
|3) Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||0.446|
|4) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||0.474|
|5) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+1.379|
|6) Pierre Gasly||Red Bull||+1.440|
|7) Lando Norris||McLaren||+1.495|
|8) Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||+1.643|
|9) Carlos Sainz||McLaren||+1.728|
|10) Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+1.784|
|11) Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||+1.864|
|12) Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+2.012|
|13) Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso||+2.019|
|14) Romain Grosjean||Haas||+2.226|
|15) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||+2.441|
|16) Sergio Perez||Racing Point||+2.332|
|17) Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||+2.381|
|18) Lance Stroll||Racing Point||+2.519|
|19) Robert Kubica||Williams||+3.743|
|20) George Russell||Williams||+9.828|
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