Mexican GP: Max Verstappen keeps Red Bull on top in practice three

Max Verstappen pipped Formula 1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton by a fraction of a second to set the pace in final practice for the Mexican Grand Prix

Mexican GP: Max Verstappen keeps Red Bull on top in practice three

Red Bull driver Verstappen clocked a 1m17.113s to finish just 0.075 seconds quicker than Mercedes rival Hamilton.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was third, ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with the top four separated by just 0.170s.

Hamilton set the early pace on the ultra-soft tyres at a cool and breezy Mexico City circuit before Bottas snuck ahead by a tenth, with a 1m17.963s.

Bottas than completed a series of fast laps, improving to a 1m17.537s to open up a four tenth gap over his team-mate before Hamilton reduced the deficit to three tenths.

The Red Bulls, running the super-softs, were best of the rest with Verstappen - who complained of struggling to get the front tyres to work - third and Ricciardo fourth.

When attention turned to qualifying-simulations, Bottas improved by a tenth of a second, but that was comfortably beaten by Vettel when the Ferrari bolted on a fresh set of ultra-softs.

Verstappen then snuck ahead on his low-fuel run by just 0.007s, having clocked the fastest first and second sectors.

Next time around, the Red Bull driver improved by a tenth of a second but there was more time to had after a big lock-up in the final sector.

FRIDAY ANALYSIS: Red Bull has winning pace but a major problem

Hamilton reported "power issues" on his first run, picking out Turn 7 as where he had the problem, and failing to improve on his earlier time.

He stayed out and improved by a fraction, but that was only good enough for sixth as Mercedes told him the issue had been spotted and was "just going to require a calibration change".

Third time around, the championship leader made big gains and slotted into second, just 0.075s adrift of Verstappen.

Ricciardo was fifth quickest, a quarter of a second off the pace, with Kimi Raikkonen sixth, three tenths slower than Ferrari team-mate Vettel.

Sergio Perez was best of the rest on home soil in seventh, nine tenths off the pace and one tenth clear of Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon.

Renault's Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10.

Brendon Hartley continued to impress with the 11th quickest time but there was frustration for Toro Rosso team-mate Pierre Gasly, who failed to set a time.

Gasly, who stepped aside for Sean Gelael in first practice and completed just 10 laps on Friday afternoon, stopped in the stadium session reporting engine issues early on.

The team gave him a complex set of instructions for how to restart the car, but when that failed, it signalled the end of his session.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, who will take 20 and 35-place grid penalties respectively for engine component changes, were 16th and 19th respectively.

FP3 times

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m17.113s - 20
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m17.188s 0.075s 23
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m17.230s 0.117s 21
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m17.283s 0.170s 18
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m17.361s 0.248s 10
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m17.517s 0.404s 27
7 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m18.040s 0.927s 20
8 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m18.165s 1.052s 18
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault 1m18.208s 1.095s 21
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m18.380s 1.267s 21
11 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Renault 1m18.602s 1.489s 23
12 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m18.690s 1.577s 23
13 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m19.066s 1.953s 20
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m19.205s 2.092s 19
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m19.331s 2.218s 27
16 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m19.565s 2.452s 22
17 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m19.586s 2.473s 22
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber/Ferrari 1m19.826s 2.713s 16
19 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Honda 1m20.030s 2.917s 25
20 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Renault - - 2


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