Sebastian Vettel leads Ferrari one-two in final practice for U.S. Grand Prix
U.S. Grand Prix - FP3

Sebastian Vettel leads Ferrari one-two in final practice for U.S. Grand Prix

21/10/2018

Sebastian Vettel topped the final practice session for the U.S. Grand Prix as Ferrari emerged as the fastest team in a dry conditions at the Circuit of the Americas.

Both Friday practice sessions were wet, meaning the single hour of running ahead of qualifying on Saturday was particularly precious for the teams' understanding of their cars and tyres. Ferrari looked strong all session, setting the fastest time on Pirelli's ultra-soft early on and then improving on a fresh set 10 minutes before the end. Vettel led teammate Kimi Raikkonen by 0.046s and held a 0.073s lead over Lewis Hamilton in third.

Mercedes left their fast laps to the very end of the session after focusing on long-run pace for the majority of the hour. Hamilton messed up his first attempt after running wide at Turn 9 and again in the final sector of the lap, but hit back on a second set of ultra-soft tyres right at the end of the session to set his fastest time. Valtteri Bottas set his fastest lap on the super-softs after failing to improve on his banker time when he went for a single run on the ultra-softs tyres at the end of the session.

However, even if Vettel can maintain his pace advantage over the Mercedes in qualifying on Saturday afternoon, he will still face a three-place grid penalty after he was caught speeding under red flags during Friday practice. As a result, the highest he can hope to start on Sunday's grid is fourth position.

After showing promising pace in the wet, the Red Bulls were left fifth and sixth in the dry, over 0.9s off the lead Ferraris. That sort of pace is likely to leave them in no-man's land for qualifying as they also held a 0.5s buffer over Charles Leclerc's Sauber in seventh place and at the top of F1's midfield runners.

Force India's Sergio Perez was eighth fastest ahead of the Renault of Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean's Haas. Esteban Ocon was 11th fastest in the second Force India ahead of Pierre Gasly's Toro Rosso, the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen and the second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg.

Marcus Ericsson was 15th for Sauber, 0.635s off teammate Leclerc, but ahead of the two Williamses of Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin. Stoffel Vandoorne was 18th fastest, beating Brendon Hartley who had a spin on his hot lap coming oiut of the penultimate corner.

Fernando Alonso found himself in unfamilar territory at the very bottom of the timesheets as McLaren looks set for another difficult qualifying session.

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