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Spanish GP 2019

MAY 11, 2019

Practice 3 Report - Trapped

By Dan Knutson in Barcelona

Valtteri Bottas was quickest in both Friday practice sessions in the upgraded Mercedes. But in FP3 on Saturday he spun and got stuck in a gravel trap. Although his car was eventually retrieved, he wound up third in the session behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes – Hamilton and Bottas; Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel and Leclerc; Red Bull TAG Heuer –Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly; Renault – Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg; Haas Ferrari – Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; McLaren Renault – Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris; Racing Point Mercedes – Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll; Alfa Romeo Ferrari – Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi; Toro Rosso Honda – Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon; Williams Mercedes – George Russell and Robert Kubica.

“It’s always an interesting day when you bring new parts for the car,” said Bottas whose best lap time on Friday was a 1:17.284. “You get the feel for the to see if they are bringing the performance they should and it felt really good today. The performance has improved and it was a whole lot different feeling from what we had here in winter testing, so that’s good.”

The McLaren drivers went out first.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 60-minute session was 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Centigrade).

Just under half the field did install laps while the rest of the drivers, including the Mercedes duo, waited in the garages for a while.

Only Kubica did any flying laps early on, and he clocked a leisurely 1:28.795 which he then improved to a 1:26.868.

But now Leclerc was lapping a whole lot faster and recorded a 1:19.334. Vettel topped that at 1:18.925. Both were on the soft compound Pirelli slicks.

After a lap to cool down the tires, Vettel improved to 1:18.255 and Leclerc to a 1:18.321. Then Vettel had a quick spin at Turn 14.

The Mercedes team finally sent Hamilton out about 15 minutes into the session.

Nineteen minutes into Q3 it was red flagged after Bottas, on a slow out lap, spun and got stuck in a gravel trap at Turn 5.

“%#&@, stuck!” he radioed.

At that time the order was Vettel, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Albon, Hulkenberg, Kvyat, Sainz, Russell and Kubica. They were the only ones who had clocked times.

When the session restarted 34 minutes were left, and now there was a bit more of a sense of urgency for those who had not done flying laps even though only seven minutes had been lost.

Hamilton showed what Bottas might have achieved as he took the lead with a 1:17.655 using the medium compound Pirelli tires. That was 0.600 quicker than Vettel’s time using the soft slicks.

The track was very busy with 25 minutes remaining and only the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers were in the garages. Verstappen was now fourth ahead of Magnussen, Kvyat, Gasly and Grosjean.

Then most of the drivers headed to the pits to prepare for their qualifying simulation laps. This included Bottas whose now un-trapped car had been returned to the pits.

Bottas headed back out on a new set of softs with 16 minutes left in the session. So did Leclerc, Vettel and Hamilton.

A time of 1:17.291 went to Bottas. Then Leclerc crossed the line at 1:17.099.

Next came Hamilton and Vettel, running in tandem, and Hamilton posted a 1:16.568 while Vettel did a 1:17.172.

Hamilton, Leclerc, Vettel, Grosjean, Bottas and Magnussen were the top six with eight minutes remaining. Then Bottas moved up to third.

After a cooler lap, Hamilton did another fast lap but it was 0.023 slower than his best.

Russell spun into the barriers and so the session was red flagged with five minutes remaining and not restarted.

The top ten at the end of FP3 were: Hamilton, Leclerc, Bottas, Vettel, Grosjean, Magnussen, Verstappen, Albon, Raikkonen and Sainz.