Bottas ahead in third Italian GP practice

Andy Hone/Motorsport Images

Bottas ahead in third Italian GP practice

Formula 1

Bottas ahead in third Italian GP practice

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Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time of the weekend so far to take top spot in final practice at the Italian Grand Prix.

The Finn was clear 0.323s atop the standings ahead of McLaren teammates Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, the Spaniard improving to within 0.23s of the leader with his final lap of the session.

Daniel Ricciardo followed in fourth, but the Australian — who is hopeful of scoring his first Renault podium this weekend — stopped on track with 10 minutes remaining in the session with a fuel pump failure, which the team says should be repaired before qualifying

The session was red flagged to collect the stricken car and resumed with three and a half minutes remaining on the clock.

Most of the field took to the circuit to set a final flying lap on the soft tires, creating chaos in the final sector as drivers slowed dramatically to prepare their tire and attempt to find a slipstream.

Lewis Hamilton almost cleaned up one of the massing cars heading into Parabolica as he attempted to make good on two poor soft-tire laps earlier in the session. He was forced to dip two wheels onto the grass in avoiding action, leaving him fifth in the order and 0.35s adrift.

Slow preparation laps have come under the microscope this weekend, with the sport hoping to avoid the farcical end to qualifying at last year’s event where most of the top-10 drivers were so distracted jockeying for position they failed to set a final lap.

The FIA said on Friday night a maximum lap time of 1m43s would be enforced at the stewards’ discretion on Saturday, but most drivers still appeared to be taking liberties, lapping slower than 1m50s to prepare for a flying lap.

Red Bull Racing teammates Max Verstappen and Alex Alon were separated by a tenth of a second in sixth and seventh ahead of Esteban Ocon in the second Renault in eighth.

Racing Point were ninth and 10th with Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez, the team admitting overnight it has struggled to adapt is new-philosophy car to the low-downforce circuits at which it has traditionally performed strongly.

Charles Leclerc was 11th for Ferrari and 0.8s behind Bottas’s benchmark. The Monegasque was vocal over team radio that attempting to abide by the maximum lap time wasn’t allowing him to fully recharge his energy recovery system.

AlphaTauri teammates Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat followed in 12th an 13th ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean and Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari.

Kevin Magnussen was 16th in the sister Haas ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo, Williams teammates George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, and Antonio Giovinazzi.

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