Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas has topped the times in the final practice session at the Losail International Circuit, ahead of qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix.
Bottas set the pace in a flurry of activity at the end of the session as the two Mercedes drivers traded fastest times. With Bottas initially the quickest after the first runs on the Softs, Hamilton went marginally quicker, only to have Bottas pop in a 1:22.310 with eight minutes to go and pip Hamilton by 0.078 seconds.
Red Bull's Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen were up next in third and fourth, but it was a less than ideal final practice for both cars. Both Perez and Verstappen appeared to struggle with the ongoing rear wing flapping that has afflicted the Red Bulls in recent races. This resulted in them missing track time as the mechanics frantically worked on the rear wing actuators, with Verstappen losing around half an hour.
Verstappen would set the fastest Red Bull time, putting in an effort 0.341s down on what Bottas managed on a late flying lap.
AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly finished in fourth and split the two Red Bulls. He experienced some drama during the session with a spin at Turn 2, as well as having a time deleted for exceeding track limits, but recovered to set a 1:22.835.
Perez would finish in fifth, two-tenths clear of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz in sixth. Alpine claimed seventh and eighth with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, ahead of Ferrari's Charles Leclerc in ninth. The Monegasque was another driver to have a spin at Turn 2, and finished with a best time two-tenths slower than what his teammate managed.
Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top 10 positions in the other AlphaTauri.
Result Free practice 3 - Qatar
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The session proved to be quite a sedate hour of track time, particularly in the opening 20 minutes.
This was because the FP3 session wasn't particularly representative of the track conditions the drivers will face during the Grand Prix, with the session taking place in the hotter conditions of the afternoon compared to the race being held in the evening.
The session also got off to a truncated start as Haas' Nikita Mazepin had a failure leaving the pit lane.
Having missed FP2 due to requiring a chassis change, the Russian was heading out for his first lap of FP3 when he was told to stop the car. The red flags were shown while the car was recovered.
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