World Champion Lewis Hamilton finished comfortably clear of the pack during final practice for Formula 1’s Russian Grand Prix.
Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas both recovered from mistakes at Turn 7 early on in the session to finish atop the timesheets.
Hamilton’s lap of 1:33.279s left him a sizeable 0.776s clear of Bottas, who had led the way through both of Friday’s practice sessions.
Bottas’ push lap later in the session was wrecked when he encountered a slow Daniil Kvyat on the run to Turn 6.
Close battle for best of the rest
The battle for the final podium position, assuming Mercedes’ dominance is maintained, looks wide open between several teams.
McLaren, Renault, Racing Point and Red Bull were separated by less than three tenths of a second around one of Formula 1’s longest circuits.
Carlos Sainz classified third, Esteban Ocon fourth, Sergio Perez fifth and Max Verstappen sixth.
Even Ferrari – enduring its worst season in 40 years – was relatively in the hunt, with seventh-placed Sebastian Vettel within three-tenths of Verstappen.
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Alexander Albon would have been inside the top 10 had a mistake through Turn 2 not resulted in his time being deleted for track limits.
Sainz’s team-mate Lando Norris finished last after failing to get in a representative lap on Softs while Daniel Ricciardo, third on Friday, had a scruffy final sector en route to 10th.
Grosjean’s radio highlights Haas woes
Romain Grosjean is enduring a difficult season with Haas and has yet to score a point.
On Friday he was 1.1 seconds behind team-mate Kevin Magnussen and early in the session that trend continued.
“There is nothing we can do with that car boys, nothing,” he lamented. “I’m one second off the pace, almost crashing every corner as there is no balance.”
Grosjean nonetheless improved to classify 14th, two positions and two-tenths clear of Magnussen, but a spin at Turn 15 led to another exasperated radio message from the Frenchman.
Williams’ pace encouraging
Williams is the only team without a point in 2020 but came agonisingly close amid the chaos at Mugello.
In 2019 its performance at Sochi was one of its worst displays in a terrible campaign and it was braced for a challenging weekend, fearing its FW43 would not suit the layout.
But George Russell classified P13, with Nicholas Latifi P15, leaving the duo clear of Alfa Romeo pairing Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen.
Qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix will begin at 15:00 local time.
|5||S. PEREZ||Racing Point||1:34.252||+0.973||14|
|6||M. VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull||1:34.306||+1.027||11|
|8||L. STROLL||Racing Point||1:34.732||+1.453||13|
|17||A. GIOVINAZZI||Alfa Romeo||1:35.590||+2.311||15|
|18||K. RAIKKONEN||Alfa Romeo||1:35.599||+2.320||15|
|19||A. ALBON||Red Bull||1:35.603||+2.324||14|