After a rather off-key pair of practice sessions on Friday, Sebastian Vettel emerged quickest in Saturday’s final practice outing before the all-important qualifying session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The four-time World Champion easily headed the field in the final one-hour hit-out, finishing over three-tenths of a second clear of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. A late crash for Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin, however, disrupted some drivers’ final flying lap attempts.

Kimi Räikkönen finished the session a solid third-fastest in the second Ferrari less than one-tenth of a second slower than Hamilton, while a last-gasp effort by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen denied a Mercedes and Ferrari sweep of the first four positions on the timesheets.

Verstappen’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo – fastest in Friday’s second practice session – was one such victim of Sirotkin’s crash, and unable to string together a clean lap he finished well down the order.

Bottas was demoted to fifth place – just 0.050 seconds slower than Verstappen – but the Finn held a four-tenth of a second advantage over the midfield runners who were headed by Force India’s Sergio Pérez. Kevin Magnussen was seventh-fastest in the Haas Ferrari.

The two Williams Mercedes of Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin completed the top ten despite the latter’s crash, split by the second Force India of Esteban Ocon.

Gusty conditions made the Baku City Circuit’s slippery track surface even more of a handful. Brendon Hartley – who has been unable to match the pace of Toro Rosso teammate all weekend on a circuit he’s never visited – was the first to fall foul with a trip down the escape road after locking up on the tricky downhill approach to Turn 15.

Romain Grosjean was another driver to experience difficulties. The Frenchman also slid into the Turn 15 run-off and later had a spin at Turn 16 in his Haas Ferrari. Bottas (Turn 7) and Ocon (Turn 16) also had their own off-track moments during the session.

The biggest incident befell Sergey Sirotkin, who was enjoying one of his most competitive sessions of his short Formula 1 career. That all came to an end inside the final ten minutes of the session when he ripped the front-right corner off his Williams when he hit the wall at Turn 3. The damage was significant, leaving his Williams mechanics with plenty of work to do to ensure he can participate in this afternoon’s qualifying session.


FORMULA 1 2018 AZERBAIJAN GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 3 TIMES
Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:43.091 17
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:43.452 + 0.361 16
3. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:43.493 + 0.402 17
4. Max Verstappen Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:43.519 + 0.428 17
5. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:43.569 + 0.478 20
6. Sergio Pérez Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:43.936 + 0.845 9
7. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:43.958 + 0.867 11
8. Lance Stroll Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:44.123 + 1.032 8
9. Esteban Ocon Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:44.220 + 1.129 11
10. Sergey Sirotkin Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:44.534 + 1.443 9
11. Fernando Alonso McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:44.763 + 1.672 12
12. Daniel Ricciardo Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:44.861 + 1.770 17
13. Pierre Gasly Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:44.905 + 1.814 16
14. Charles Leclerc Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:45.218 + 2.127 15
15. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:45.261 + 2.170 12
16. Carlos Sainz Jr Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:45.432 + 2.341 15
17. Nico Hülkenberg Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:45.456 + 2.365 11
18. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:45.505 + 2.414 13
19. Marcus Ericsson Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:45.910 + 2.819 17
20. Brendon Hartley Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:46.186 + 3.095 11

Image via Scuderia Ferrari

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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