Bottas completes Portuguese GP practice sweep

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Bottas completes Portuguese GP practice sweep

Formula 1

Bottas completes Portuguese GP practice sweep

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Valtteri Bottas completed a clean sweep of practice sessions for Mercedes at the Portuguese Grand Prix but Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing look poised to threaten for pole.

Bottas snatched the top time late with a 1m16.654s, the fastest time of the weekend so far. He pipped teammate Lewis Hamilton by 0.026s after the Briton slid wide at Turn 8 on his own late flyer.

But third-placed Verstappen, 0.158s off the pace, would have been right in the mix had his best effort not been deleted. A time set on an early medium-tire run would have had him split the Mercedes and only 0.005s behind Bottas, but it was scrubbed from the record for exceeding track limits at turn one.

Teammate Alex Albon, looking more comfortable in the RB16 after a raft of upgrades in recent races, would have followed Verstappen in the order had he similarly not had his best time deleted. He instead wound up fifth.

Splitting the Red Bull Racing pair was Pierre Gasly, who less than 24 hours ago watched his AlphaTauri go up in flames at the side of the circuit with a power unit problem. Equipped with a new chassis and used engine parts, he put himself fourth in the order, a quarter of a second off the pace.

Although times were more than a second quicker than they were on Friday, drivers were still reporting difficult generating tire temperature, with several experimenting with multiple preparation laps before setting their fastest times.

Charles Leclerc ended final practice sixth and 0.575s off the pace for Ferrari. The Monegasque strangely reported hearing an unfamiliar voice on his radio — he thought it sounded like Lewis Hamilton — but it wasn’t enough to keep 0.009s ahead of Carlos Sainz, the Spaniard’s McLaren running a new internal combustion engine, turbocharger and motor generator units after an overnight change.

Sergio Perez followed for Racing Point in eighth ahead of Lando Norris in the second McLaren and Renault’s Esteban Ocon.

Sebastian Vettel was 11th in the second Ferrari ahead of Daniil Kvyat’s AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Daniel Ricciardo was 14th for Renault after losing time late in the session with a DRS failure. The team managed to identify and repair the problem in time to send the car back out with a couple of minutes remaining, but the session was red flagged and ended early before he could set a time when a drain cover came on the edge of the track at Turn 14, apparently ripped up by a wide-running Vettel

George Russell was 15th for Williams ahead of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll. Antonio Giovinazzi finished ahead of Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, with Williams driver Nicholas Latifi and Haas’s Romain Grosjean bringing up the rear.

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