Bottas and Hamilton are the fastest ahead of qualifying in Qatar

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Bottas and Hamilton are the fastest ahead of qualifying in Qatar

Valtteri Bottas continued where he left off on Friday with the new best time of the weekend in his third free practice for the Qatar GP, where he was less than a tenth of a second faster than teammate Lewis Hamilton, and Max Verstappen in Red Bull was three tenths behind Mercedes.

Drivers began training on medium and soft tires, to prepare for qualifying and to check that overnight settings changes had the desired effect on car behavior. Alonso set the fastest time on medium tires, 1: 23.904, 0.046 seconds ahead of Hamilton and 0.115 seconds ahead of Bottas who was on soft while Ocon, Sainz, Perez and Leclerc were also less than a second behind the fastest Alonso.

Bottas drove a new fastest time on the soft after the cooling lap, 1: 23.387, and Hamilton drives another 0.235 seconds faster than his teammate with all three top sectors. Perez set the third-best time, half a second behind Hamilton, and Verstappen drives the best first sector of all drivers, 0.112 s faster than Hamilton, personally the best second and not so good third sector for the new fastest time, 0.031 seconds faster than his opponent in combat for the title.

Leclerc finished fifth for Ferrari, 0.460 s behind Verstappen, with a new best time in the third sector, with Sainz splitting Mercedes drivers with 0.238 with a slower lap than Verstappen. Hamilton drives the new best time 1: 22.655 with the best second sector 25 minutes before the end of training, and Bottas improves his time by 0.082 with as much as three tenths better first sector and the best time in the third sector (1: 22.573).

Other drivers

Sainz and Leclerc further improved their times and took fourth and fifth place for Ferrari (1: 23.2) ahead of Gasly (1: 23.4) who cleared the fastest lap 1: 22.7 due to non-compliance with track limits. Perez finally drives a competitive time for Red Bull, 1: 22.846, which puts him in third place, 0.273 seconds behind Bottas, and Hamilton on the new software set fixes Bottas time by 0.185 seconds with the best second sector and personally the best first and third sectors.

Gasly improved his time for AlphaTauri, 1: 23.136, and split the two Ferrari drivers in sixth place, with Bottas driving the new best time 1: 22.310, 0.078 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Leclerc finished ninth fastest for Ferrari ahead of Tsunoda in AlphaTauri who set his best time on medium tires, and Ricciardo and Norris were only 11th and 13th fastest for McLaren.

Vettel split McLaren’s drivers in 12th place for Aston Martin, three places ahead of Stroll, and Russell was Williams ’faster driver in 14th place. Raikkonen was 0.042 s faster than Giovinazzi in 16th and 17th place for Alfa Romeo, and Latifi was faster than just two Haas drivers.

Mazepin failed to drive more than one lap after the second training session due to chassis damage in the first training session due to technical problems.