Vettel heads Raikkonen in US GP FP3 at Austin, Hamilton takes third

Sebastian Vettel set the pace in the final Formula 1 practice session for the United States Grand Prix as the teams finally got some dry running

Vettel heads Raikkonen in US GP FP3 at Austin, Hamilton takes third

Vettel outpaced Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen by less than a tenth, while championship leader and Friday pacesetter Lewis Hamilton jumped to third late-on as Ferrari and Mercedes adopted different approaches to an unusually busy Saturday practice.

After both Friday sessions took place in wet conditions, there was a flurry of activity at the start of FP3 with qualifying and the race due to be held in the dry.

The Ferraris were alone in using the ultrasoft tyres at first as others focused on longer runs, with Raikkonen heading Vettel by just 0.04s after their first efforts.

Race preparations meant there was little of note in the first half an hour, although Raikkonen did improve to a 1m34.419s.

Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso engaged in an odd wheel-to-wheel scrap when Alonso dived inside the Mercedes heading into the uphill Turn 1 and Bottas repassed the McLaren around the outside going back down the incline into Turn 2.

Mercedes told Bottas Alonso was "playing games" as it continued to focus on long runs, but that changed in the second half-hour when a flurry of fast lap runs were carried out.

Bottas avoided the ultrasofts but did push on supersofts, setting a 1m34.446s, while Hamilton made a small mistake on his first push lap and then posted a time one tenth slower than his team-mate after a couple of laps at lower speed.

The Ferraris completed their third runs of the session on fresh ultrasofts, and Vettel used this to finally leapfrog Raikkonen into P1 by 0.046s with a 1m33.797s.

That remained the benchmark to the end, although a late effort from Hamilton got him ahead of team-mate Bottas.

Hamilton threatened to go fastest by setting the best middle sector of the session with two minutes to go, but he eventually wound up a tenth off Vettel after losing time at the end of the lap.

He managed to get within a tenth of his title rival and go 0.7s clear of Bottas, who set his best time on supersofts.

The Red Bulls trailed a few tenths behind Bottas, with Max Verstappen leading Daniel Ricciardo, while Charles Leclerc snuck to the front of the best-of-the-rest battle in a whirlwind of last-gasp improvement to take seventh.

Leclerc's 1m35.365s put him half a tenth clear of Sergio Perez, as Carlos Sainz Jr and Romain Grosjean lapped within and just outside a tenth of the Sauber driver's effort respectively.

FP3 results

Pos Driver Team Gap Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari 1m33.797s 20
2 Kimi Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari 0.046s 21
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 0.073s 23
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport 0.759s 21
5 Max Verstappen Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 0.906s 21
6 Daniel Ricciardo Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 1.113s 20
7 Charles Leclerc Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team 1.568s 21
8 Sergio Perez Racing Point Force India F1 Team 1.614s 21
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault Sport Formula One Team 1.653s 21
10 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team 1.671s 19
11 Esteban Ocon Racing Point Force India F1 Team 1.765s 22
12 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda 1.916s 27
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team 1.973s 19
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Sport Formula One Team 2.085s 19
15 Marcus Ericsson Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team 2.203s 21
16 Lance Stroll Williams Martini Racing 2.391s 21
17 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Martini Racing 2.396s 20
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren F1 Team 2.505s 23
19 Brendon Hartley Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda 2.533s 26
20 Fernando Alonso McLaren F1 Team 2.535s 20

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen , Lewis Hamilton , Sebastian Vettel
Author Scott Mitchell
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