FP3: Verstappen hits the front

Max Verstappen claimed the final practice P1 in Mexico after clearing a traffic jam which saw 20 of the 22 drivers leave the pits within seconds of each other.

It was business as usual to start with for Mercedes as the sun shone down on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez, as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg took control of the time-sheets.

Joining the back-markers Manor out on the track, Mercedes quickly seized control.

Hamilton posted a 1:19.721 to slot into P1, half a second up on Nico Rosberg as the championship contenders conducted their early runs on the soft tyres.

Friday’s pace-setter Sebastian Vettel stuck his Ferrari between the Mercedes drivers as he slid into second place on the soft tyres only to lose out to the Red Bull racers.

Max Verstappen went second but was dropped minutes later by Daniel Ricciardo. The Aussie was 0.229s off Hamilton’s pace with Verstappen 0.009s further back and Vettel a tenth off that.

Swapping to the supersoft tyres almost all 22 cars left the pits at the same time. “You’ve let me out with a lot of cars,” was Hamilton’s assessment. Mercedes respond that they “all left the pits at the same time.”

Verstappen was the first to improve with a 1:19.137, the fastest time of the weekend at that point, while Hamilton and Rosberg struggled in the traffic with the latter backing off as he caught his team-mate.

Hamilton moved up to second place behind the Red Bull driver, 0.094s down, while Ricciardo finished the session in third place, 0.238s off the pace.

Rosberg was fourth ahead of Valtteri Bottas, Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz completed the top 10.

Times

1 Verstappen Red Bull 1:19.137 16 laps
2 Hamilton Mercedes 1:19.231 23 laps
3 Ricciardo Red Bull 1:19.370 17 laps
4 Rosberg Mercedes 1:19.618 27 laps
5 Bottas Williams 1:19.811 19 laps
6 Vettel Ferrari 1:19.937 16 laps
7 Raikkonen Ferrari 1:19.994 16 laps
8 Massa Williams 1:19.997 22 laps
9 Hulkenberg Force India 1:20.255 21 laps
10 Sainz Jr Toro Rosso 1:20.325 22 laps
11 Perez Force India 1:20.472 20 laps
12 Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:20.586 20 laps
13 Alonso McLaren 1:20.600 18 laps
14 Palmer Renault 1:20.959 18 laps
15 Button McLaren 1:21.152 19 laps
16 Ericsson Sauber 1:21.245 21 laps
17 Gutiérrez Haas 1:21.338 16 laps
18 Magnussen Renault 1:21.345 17 laps
19 Grosjean Haas 1:21.601 15 laps
20 Wehrlein Manor 1:21.758 23 laps
21 Ocon Manor 1:21.921 22 laps
22 Nasr Sauber 1:22.354 18 laps

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