Verstappen sets the pace in messy FP3 in Mexico

Max Verstappen set the fastest time of a messy final practice session for the Mexican Grand Prix as drivers struggled for clear laps.

As was the case on Friday, traffic was a problem throughout much of the session and led to a number of aborted attempts to set lap times on the supersoft tyre during the qualifying simulations. Verstappen managed a clear run as Red Bull opted to head out relatively early, setting the pace with a 1:19.137.

  • AS IT HAPPENED: 2016 Mexican Grand Prix – FP3

Lewis Hamilton was second fastest, 0.094s slower than Verstappen as he had to abort his first planned attempt due to traffic. The defending champion took two laps to close the gap to less than a tenth of a second, with a clear final sector allowing him to set the fastest time in that part of the track. Hamilton’s time also showed the supersoft tyre is good for more than one flying lap.

Daniel Ricciardo was third quickest but will attribute the 0.233s gap to team-mate Verstappen to traffic on his first attempt. Ricciardo was on a good lap but came across a very slow Kevin Magnussen in the middle of the penultimate corner and lost time. A second run yielded no personal improvement in any sector but a slightly quicker time overall for Ricciardo, who split the two Mercedes drivers.

Nico Rosberg was 0.481s off the pace in fourth but aborted one of his laps when he ran wide at Turn 12. The two Ferrari drivers – Sebastian Vettel in sixth and Kimi Raikkonen in seventh – made the exact same mistake and ended the session 0.8s off the pace. However, Vettel’s first attempt saw him fastest in the first two sectors before running wide, suggesting both Ferrari and Red Bull could threaten Mercedes in qualifying.

Between Rosberg and the Ferraris was Valtteri Bottas as Williams timed its first runs well. Bottas and Felipe Massa – eighth fastest overall – were sent out early while the track was clear to attempt their low fuel runs. Massa did not have a smooth session, however, locking up and running wide over the grass at Turn 1 early on.

Flying laps were also hampered by a brief yellow flag when Romain Grosjean spun at Turn 11 late in the session. Grosjean was unhappy with the handling of his Haas as he ended FP3 down in 19th place, two spots below team-mate Esteban Gutierrez as both complained of a lack of grip from the front tyres.

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