This afternoon’s Mexican Grand Prix qualifying session looks set to be one of the closest of the season after Max Verstappen narrowly claimed the fastest time in final practice. The fastest six runners – once again filled by Red Bull Racing, Mercedes and Ferrari – were covered by just four-tenths of a second at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
Such was the pace in FP3 it is all but certain that last year’s pole position lap record will be obliterated by the afternoon’s dash for pole. In a highly competitive session, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel all spent periods at the top of the timesheets before being usurped by Verstappen’s Ultra Soft tyre effort of 1:17.113.
The Dutch driver’s time was just 0.075 seconds quicker than Hamilton’s best lap, while the Mercedes driver’s sole championship rival Vettel was a further one-tenth of a second behind.
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull Racing) and Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) all closely shadowed their respective teammates to complete the top-six places on the timing screens.
Force India occupied its customary ‘best of the rest’ position, half a second adrift, with crowd favourite Sergio Pérez edging teammate Esteban Ocon. The pair shaded the Renaults of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hülkenberg, who rounded out the top ten.
Toro Rosso newcomer Brendon Hartley was an impressive eleventh-fastest, giving the Italian team some cheer after teammate Pierre Gasly suffered yet another suspected Renault power unit issue. Having sat out of FP1 for Sean Gelael, the French youngster has managed just 12 laps across his two free practice outings and is desperately short of track mileage. Adding to his woes, he is set to start from the back of the grid amid engine change penalties being applied.
The Williams’ of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were cemented in the midfield, with the latter having a wild moment through the final corner and lapping four-tenths slower than his vastly experienced teammate.
After reportedly taking ill on Friday, Kevin Magnussen required clearance from the FIA medics before being allowed to participate in today’s session. The Haas driver finished 14th-fastest ahead of Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Haas teammate Romain Grosjean.
Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber) and Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) were the slowest runners to post a time ahead of the sidelined Gasly.
Saturday’s qualifying session in Mexico City will begin at 13:00 local time.
|FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE MÉXICO 2017 – FREE PRACTICE 3 RESULTS|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Tyre||Laps|
|1.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:17.113||20|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:17.188||23|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:17.230||21|
|4.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08||1:17.283||18|
|5.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13||1:17.361||10|
|6.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF70H||1:17.517||27|
|7.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:18.040||20|
|8.||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10||1:18.165||18|
|9.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:18.208||21|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS17||1:18.380||21|
|11.||Brendon Hartley||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||1:18.602||23|
|12.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:18.690||23|
|13.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40||1:19.066||20|
|14.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:19.205||19|
|15.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:19.331||27|
|16.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:19.565||22|
|17.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17||1:19.586||22|
|18.||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36||1:19.826||16|
|19.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda MCL32||1:20.030||25|
|20.||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12||not time||2|
Image via LAT Images