Max Verstappen put in a late effort to pip Sebastian Vettel to the top of the order during a busy final practice at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, while Leclerc was faced with a technical problem right at the start of the session, which leaves Ferrari on an uphill challenge to get Leclerc’s car prepared for qualifying.
Verstappen’s fastest time was a 1:33.305, which gave the Dutchman a 0.218s advantage over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Behind him was an impressive lap by Lando Norris, who managed to produce a lap that took him ahead of both the Mercedes cars.
Story of the session
The session was given the green light with cool, calm conditions, as the drivers went about setting their installation laps to prepare for Saturday’s running in Austin, Texas.
Grosjean, who suffered yet another crash on Friday afternoon, was first to set a lap after the installation laps, as the Frenchman set a 1:36.579.
There was, however, trouble for Ferrari, as Charles Leclerc stopped on track before even setting a single timed lap, as his Ferrari faced a technical problem – a suspected engine problem.
While Leclerc walked back to the paddock, Vettel went fastest with a 1.34.733, while Hamilton was less than a tenth shy of the Ferrari drivers time. However, Bottas soon went quickest with a 1.34.558s, which gave him a 0.175s advantage over the Ferrari driver.
The top-runners went for a second attempt, which saw Vettel jump to the top of the order with a 1.34.441, while Bottas also improved, but was still 0.080s adrift of the Ferrari drivers time.
As the drivers continued to improve on their lap-times, it became increasingly clear that there was minimal drop-off from the tyres, as Vettel continued to improve on his third run – however, that lap-time was quickly deleted for exceeding track limits, while an impressive first lap by Verstappen took him just 0.017s to the fastest time.
As the Dutchman got a second go, the Red Bull driver went fastest with a 1.34.186s, elevating himself after of the two Mercedes cars and the sole remaining Ferrari.
As the drivers went for their qualifying simulations, Vettel set the fastest time with a 1.33.523s, which gave the German nearly a two tenth advantage over Verstappen’s Red Bull. The closest Mercedes, Bottas, was almost four tenths adrift.
Meanwhile, Verstappen’s second run saw him pip Vettel to top spot with a 1.33.305s, while a very impressive lap from Norris in the McLaren saw him go third fastest and ahead of the two Mercedes cars.