Interlagos FP3: Hamilton back on top
Lewis Hamilton edged team-mate Rosberg to take top spot in final practice fot eh Brazilian Grand Prix, despite appearing to suffer a gearbox glitch early in the session.
Hamilton’s first run of the morning, 20 minutes into the session, was brought to an early stop when he pulled over and reported a loss of gears. The Briton managed to get going again and after a spell in the garage for checks he emerged soon after to take control of the session at the half way point with a time of 1m13.647s.
That put him 0.106 up on Rosberg but following the pattern of tight margins between the pair established across the weekend’s earlier practice sessions, Rosberg immediately fought back, finding a four tenths of a second improvement to post a time of 1:13.324s, 0.323s ahead of Hamilton.
Third on the medium tyres was Sebastian Vettel, though the German was 0.7s down on his countryman. Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, while Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen was fifth, though he was a full second adrift of Rosberg. Valtteri Bottas was sixth for Williams ahead of Carlos Sainz in the second Toro Rosso, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado and Force India’s Sergio Perez.
With 25 minutes left of the clock, Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat became the first to take to the soft tyre but headed straight back in for a rethink.
As the Red Bull driver steered back to the pit lane the yellow flags were coming out at Turn 11 as Hamilton spun. Again he was able to continue on his way and he too headed for the pit lane to contemplate the move to the option tyres for a qualifying simulation.
The Russian immediately jumped to third from the middle of the order, finding over a second over his best medium tyre time to record a lap of 1:13.958. He then improved on his second flying lap on the softs, posting a time of 1:13.829, 0.505 down on Rosberg’s medium tyre time.
With 10 minutes left Hamilton jumped back into the lead on the soft tyre, becoming the first man to lap in 1m12s, with a time of 1:12.070. Rosberg attempted to responde but the German could only get to just over 0.12s of his team-mate as the flag fell.
With Vettel and Raikkonen third and fourth for Ferrari, fifth place went to Bottas, with Hulkenberg sixth ahead of Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, Force India’s Sergio Perez, Maldonado and Verstappen.
Brazilian Grand Prix, Autodromo Carlos Pace – Free Practice 3
|6||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:13.345||+1.275s||19|
|8||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:13.506||+1.436s||18|
|10||33||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:13.548||+1.478s||21|
|11||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||1:13.572||+1.502s||23|
|13||26||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Racing||1:13.829||+1.759s||17|
|15||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:13.959||+1.889s||23|