Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time of the final practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix as both Mercedes and Ferrari drivers were covered by just 0.058s.
In much cooler conditions than Friday’s running took place in, Bottas pipped teammate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.003s with a a lap time of 1m09.281s on the supersoft tire runs as Mercedes completed a clean sweep of all three sessions at Interlagos. However, on Saturday morning the gap to Ferrari was all but erased, with Kimi Raikkonen third on a 1m09.326s and Sebastian Vettel only 0.013s adrift of his teammate in fourth place.
Fifth was Daniel Ricciardo after limited running for the Red Bull drivers, with the Australian nearly a second off the pace, while Fernando Alonso ended up an impressive sixth for McLaren.
Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen was unable to set a representative time on the supersoft tire after running wide on his first flying attempt and backing off. On his next effort, Verstappen again got slightly wide exiting Junco – the final proper corner before the long uphill drag to the finish line – and spun at high speed, just keeping the car out of the barrier.
Sergio Perez was seventh quickest behind Alonso, with Esteban Ocon also within 0.1s of the McLaren in eighth place. Verstappen and Carlos Sainz rounded out the top 10, with the short lap meaning lap times were extremely close.
Having shown strong pace throughout Friday, Felipe Massa faded somewhat in FP3 as he ended up 12th quickest overall ahead of his final qualifying session at his home race, but teammate Lance Stroll suffered a disastrous session as he was forced to stop after just 10 minutes of running.
Stroll stopped at Turn 7 on his second lap of the day and reported a problem with the gearing before a loss of power. Williams later confirmed that the Canadian would need a new gearbox and power until due to the problem, with a five-place grid penalty being incurred for the gearbox change. While the power unit will be a previously used item that doesn’t carry a penalty, Williams faces a race against time to prepare the car for qualifying.
While Stroll hit trouble in FP3, Toro Rosso recovered from its problems on Friday to again complete the most mileage of any team. Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley were 16th and 17th, respectively, as Toro Rosso uses old power unit components, with a war of words breaking out between the team and engine supplier Renault on Saturday morning due to recent reliability woes.