L&T Motorsport

Bottas Fastest in Final Practice

It was a mix in grid order for the final practice ahead of qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas used the tow from other cars on track to get the edge on fellow countryman Kimi Raikkonen and finish the session fastest.

A 1:42.742 was the fastest lap time of the session from Bottas, beating the pace set by Max Verstappen yesterday. The super-soft tyres, that the Mercedes duo only fitted to their cars for the final section of the session, gave Bottas a 0.095-second advantage over his fellow Finn in second place.

Raikkonen managed to split the Mercedes pair. After suggesting there may be an electrical issue with his Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton was able to finish third fastest, three-tenths off his teammate. The Brit had traded fastest laps with Bottas during the end-of-sessions qualifying runs but the potential electrical problem left the fight to Raikkonen and Bottas.

Sebastian Vettel’s session ended with fifteen minutes of the session to go. Having only gotten seven laps on the board, he was pulled into the garage as Ferrari detected a potential hydraulic issue on his car. Without managing to do a qualifying simulation, Vettel finished 12th overall.

Red Bull had been the team to beat yesterday, but today saw a return to the usual program. Daniel Ricciardo finished the session fourth fastest, but was half a second off the pace. Yesterday’s pace setter Max Verstappen also had an early end to his session. An engine issue had been plaguing his session from around the half way mark, but setting changes had seemed to fix that. It was ten minutes before chequered flag that Verstappen’s car shut down, stopping on track, also with a hydraulic issue.

The Red Bull pair was split by Esteban Ocon who was fifth. Felipe Massa had started the session fighting at the top of the timing board, but finished seventh when the chequered flag dropped. Daniil Kvyat, Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez completed the top ten.

After an early engine fire saw Jolyon Palmer stopping on track and ending his session after just one flying lap, Nico Hulkenberg got the Renault team to P11 at the end of the session.

Fernando Alonso was the best of the McLarens after having a long stop in the pits, finishing P14 and half a second faster than teammate Stoffel Vandoorne. However, qualifying will mean little to the McLaren-Honda team as the unreliable and underpowered Honda power unit has given Vandoorne a 30-place drop for replacing parts and Alonso a 48-place drop before qualifying has even begun.

(image: autosport.com)


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