Lewis Hamilton capitalised on a rare mistake by championship leader Valtteri Bottas to finish comfortably quickest in the final practice session for the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix.

The reigning World Champion led the field by over half a second in the field’s final hit-out before qualifying as a number of drivers struggled for grip on a much cooler Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya track surface.

Chief among those was Bottas, who had been the fastest driver in both Friday practice sessions. With rain-threatening clouds hovering ominously above the circuit giving much cooler conditions than seen yesterday, the Finn was one of a number of drivers battling to keep his car pointing in the right direction.

Twenty minutes into the session, Bottas brought out the red flags when he lost the rear of his Mercedes midway through Turn 5 and spun backwards into the gravel. With his car beached in a dangerous position, officials stopped the session so it could be retrieved.

By this stage Sebastian Vettel had already looped his Ferrari at the entry of Turn 14 a few minutes into the session, while Hamilton also had a moment and avoided spinning his Mercedes at the final corner when it had a bout of snap oversteer.

The action resumed after a short delay and Hamilton regrouped to post a rapid 1:16.568, becoming the only driver so far to break the 1m17s barrier.

Behind the leading quarter from Mercedes and Ferrari, the Haas team continued its competitive showing by having Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen place fifth and sixth-fastest. The duo outpaced Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen in seventh, with the Dutch driver almost a second off Hamilton’s best time at the end of the session.

By contrast the swathe of upgrades fitted to the factory Renault team’s cars don’t yet seem to be yielding the results the team had expected. Having expressed hopes that its cars could be genuine contenders to make the top-ten in qualifying, both Nico Hülkenberg (12th) and Daniel Ricciardo (17th) finished worryingly off the pace.

Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen both made their first appearances in the top half of the time sheets, with crowd favourite Carlos Sainz Jr. once again running strongly in his McLaren and closing out the top-ten.

FP3 had its second red flag when George Russell slid his Williams into the barriers at Turn 4 with four minutes to go. It was a rare error by the reigning Formula 2 champion, who will be hoping that his FW42 can be repaired in time for qualifying.

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10 1:16.568 14
2. Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari SF90 1:17.009 + 0.531 16
3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10 1:17.123 + 0.555 9
4. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF90 1:17.172 + 0.604 15
5. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team VF-19 1:17.192 + 0.624 15
6. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team VF-19 1:17.530 + 0.962 15
7. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing RB15 1:17.558 + 0.990 12
8. Alexander Albon Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:17.864 + 1.296 16
9. Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing C38 1:17.969 + 1.401 17
10. Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren F1 Team MCL34 1:18.003 + 1.435 17
11. Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:18.105 + 1.537 17
12. Nico Hülkenberg Renault F1 Team RS19 1:18.350 + 1.782 17
13. Sergio Pérez Racing Point F1 Team RP19 1:18.656 + 2.088 12
14. Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing RB15 1:18.693 + 2.125 12
15. Lance Stroll Racing Point F1 Team RP19 1:18.734 + 2.166 16
16. Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing C38 1:18.740 + 2.172 14
17. Daniel Ricciardo Renault F1 Team RS19 1:18.974 + 2.406 14
18. Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team MCL34 1:19.007 + 2.439 14
19. George Russell ROKiT Williams Racing FW42 1:19.421 + 2.853 16
20. Robert Kubica ROKiT Williams Racing FW42 1:20.570 + 4.002 18

Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport

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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.