2020 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix, 3rd free practice

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The third free practice took place at the 2020 Formula One Russian Grand Prix. The last 60-minute practice was won by Valtteri Bottas with Mercedes, ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton and mclarenes Carlos Sainz.

The pilots were able to start circling in Sochi at an air temperature of 26 degrees and an asphalt temperature of 38 degrees. At first, McLaren riders Lando Norris and Sainz drove to the track, but they didn’t rush things either: they rolled out a narrow five minutes after the pit lane opened, but only the British remained on a measured lap. Norris started at 1: 36,423 while the others were still in the garage.

Not long after, several people drove to the track, including the two Mercedes: Bottas didn’t finish his first fast lap, the Finn ruined the turn on the dusty track where Sainz broke McLaren in his first free practice. He later corrected and jumped to the edge, but Hamilton missed him as he rode one of the elevated loop wheels in his first lap. Among them, even Daniel Ricciardo fit in with Renault – the Australian was strong on Friday and seemed to have moved his form to Saturday’s first laps.

For a short time, the two AlphaTauri also jumped to the forefront, but the Mercedes racers soon returned to the top two places on the scoreboard. Pierre Gasly was third at the time, but the race winner France had a shaky moment: it didn’t take long for him to smash his car in the last sector of the rather dusty track.

Halfway through, the long-awaited boxer Max Verstappen also ran his first lap with Red Bull, running the Dutch runner-up, splitting Bottas and Hamilton 2 tenths of a second slower. It didn’t take long for him to smash his car in the box at Verstappen anyway, with little room left between the wheel and the wall.

The race management has tightened the rules for leaving the course: starting from the training, the last turn is watched with a keen eye for the rest of the weekend, so whoever widens it loses their lap time. The riders adapted quite well to the change, not even having to cancel a single lap time.

In the last twenty minutes, the job had changed a lot. Hamilton came up to the lead, beating Bottas’ best time very much, by nearly eight tenths of a second. Sainz finished third, ahead of Esteban Ocon’s Renault. Ricciardo would have been able to complete a similarly good lap as well, but at the end of the workout the right rearview mirror curved, which visibly bothered the Australian. Sergio Perez finished fifth with Racing Point, ahead of Verstappen. Ferrari drivers bringing improvements to Sochi were slightly better than those seen on Friday: Sebastian Vettel finished seventh and Charles Leclerc finished 12th.

At the end of the workout, Romain Grosjean spun around with Haas in almost the same way as his compatriot Gasly before. The Frenchman complained of a lack of grip throughout the practice.

The timing of the Russian Grand Prix starts at 2 pm Hungarian time.

Image source (s): Getty Images



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