Russian Grand Prix: Ferrari's Leclerc back on top in final practice

Charles Leclerc set the pace in final practice for the Russian Grand Prix as the Ferrari driver eyes a fourth consecutive pole position in Formula 1

Russian Grand Prix: Ferrari's Leclerc back on top in final practice

Leclerc, who won the Belgian and Italian GPs from pole, was comfortably on top in the 60-minute Saturday session at Sochi as Ferrari's advantage over Mercedes continued.

Ferrari was not expected to carry its strong Singapore form into this weekend's event but Mercedes appears to be struggling to optimise its tyres over a lap compared to its rival frontrunners.

Leclerc controlled the session throughout although only beat Max Verstappen's Friday benchmark in the final 20 minutes.

Initially, Leclerc was on top with a 1m33.906s but lapped 1.1 seconds quicker than that on his first flying lap on his last run.

He shaved another tenth from that time after backing off to cool his tyres, ending up on a 1m32.861s, 0.3s quicker than the best lap on Friday.

Hamilton ended up the best of the Mercedes runners, 0.396s off the pace, having feared after his first runs that a much bigger margin would be difficult to eradicate.

Despite finding more time at the end, and briefly going second in the times, Hamilton was overhauled by the second Ferrari.

Vettel was 0.4s slower than Leclerc after their first laps on the last runs, but made a decent improvement to get back ahead of Hamilton with a 1m33.129s.

Max Verstappen was expected to challenge Leclerc for the quickest time after initially lapping just 0.4s off the pace in the first runs despite using the medium compound.

However, he failed to set a flying lap after switching to softs.

His first lap on a late run was compromised by a wide moment exiting Turn 2 that sent him very slightly airborne over the exit kerb.

He spun on his second flying lap under braking for the tight Turn 13 right-hander after the long left, and ended up lightly nerfing the barrier rearwards.

That left Verstappen fifth in the times, behind Valtteri Bottas but ahead of the Haas of Romain Grosjean.

Grosjean was on an even faster lap when he had a wide moment and skated over a sausage kerb, but his best was still good enough to finish just 1.5s off the pace.

A late lap launched Alex Albon to seventh in the second Red Bull but he lost time running wide out of the final corner and should have moved up to fifth.

Nico Hulkenberg was eighth fastest for Renault ahead of the McLaren of Lando Norris, as Kevin Magnussen completed the top 10 in the second Haas.

Towards the back of the order, Daniil Kvyat completed just four laps as his miserable home grand prix continued.

After losing time in FP1 and being told he could not use a special tribute helmet on Friday, Kvyat stopped on-track in FP3 with a Honda engine issue.

He will switch to a new Spec 4 engine for the grand prix as he is poised to start last anyway after multiple component changes already.

FP3 times

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m32.733s - 14
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m33.049s 0.316s 15
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m33.129s 0.396s 19
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m33.354s 0.621s 18
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1m34.227s 1.494s 12
6 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m34.308s 1.575s 17
7 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1m34.371s 1.638s 21
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m34.421s 1.688s 13
9 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1m34.527s 1.794s 15
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m34.546s 1.813s 15
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m34.564s 1.831s 16
12 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m34.586s 1.853s 14
13 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 1m34.607s 1.874s 18
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m34.766s 2.033s 15
15 Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 1m34.860s 2.127s 7
16 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1m34.898s 2.165s 16
17 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m35.714s 2.981s 19
18 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1m36.011s 3.278s 18
19 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 1m36.081s 3.348s 4
20 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 1m36.942s 4.209s 19


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