Max Verstappen quickest as Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel close gap in final practice for Mexican Grand Prix
Mexican Grand Prix - FP3

Max Verstappen quickest as Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel close gap in final practice for Mexican Grand Prix

28/10/2018

Max Verstappen made it a clean sweep of practice sessions for the No.33 car ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, although the field closed up in the last bit of track action before qualifying.

Verstappen and Red Bull dominated Friday's two sessions but the weather was much different on Saturday morning, with morning rain leaving the track damp at the beginning of the session. Verstappen went quickest on a 1:16.284, although Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were just 0.254s and 0.282s behind respectively -- on Friday, the Dutchman had been over a second quicker than the nearest non-Red Bull car.

Valtteri Bottas was the notable absentee from the top six. The Finn pulled his Mercedes to the side of the road in the stadium section in the final 10 minutes with what the team confirmed was a hydraulics issue, leaving the world champions with a short turnaround to fix any lingering issue ahead of qualifying.

The result will continue Red Bull's optimism of a strong weekend at the high-altitude Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit, where the thin air appears to negate some of Renault's crippling power deficit which has hampered the team for much of the year. If Verstappen was to take pole position on Saturday afternoon it would make him the youngest driver ever to do so.

Daniel Ricciardo had a less convincing session in the other Red Bull, finishing 0.7s off the pace. The lower temperature and track conditions meant tyre management was less of an issue than it had been on Saturday, but the Australian sounded frustrated on the radio after posting his quickest qualifying simulation attempt. Kimi Raikkonen finished just behind in fifth, just ahead of the man he will swap places with next season, Sauber's Charles Leclerc, who turned in an impressive performance as the only driver outside of the top three cars to finish within a second of the leader.

Pierre Gasly, running a new Honda power unit, was eighth ahead Of Marcus Ericsson and Renault's Nico Hulkenberg. Once again the Force Indias were split by less than a tenth of a second, with Esteban Ocon just edging Sergio Perez to the 11th quickest time of the day. Romain Grosjean was 13th for Haas in a session which saw him run wide at Turn 1 after missing his braking point.

The McLarens of Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso finished 14th and 15th respectively. Alonso experienced the rare thrill of having his papaya McLaren top of the order early on, albeit having been the first driver to set a time on the dry tyres after a quiet start to the session. It's likely to be the high point of McLaren's weekend on what looks set to be another miserable chapter of its dismal 2018 season.

Brendon Hartley was 16th for Toro Rosso ahead of Williams pair Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll. Kevin Magnussen finished bottom of the order after setting just one lap, with Haas opting to use the time of FP3 to change his car's intercooler ahead of qualifying.

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