Lewis Hamilton laid down an impressive benchmark for the rest of the Formula 1 grid ahead of qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix by topping the timesheets in final practice at Interlagos.
The Briton produced a fastest lap time of 1:12.070 on the soft tire to head up a Mercedes one-two, edging out teammate Nico Rosberg for P1.
Hamilton’s session was not without its problems, though. The Mercedes driver came to a stop at turn ten after 20 minutes, claiming that he had “lost gears”. However, he was able to get his car back going again without necessitating a red flag.
With 25 minutes remaining in FP3, Hamilton made a mistake that saw him spin in the final sector and come to a halt in the run-off area. Despite not damaging his car and being able to return to the pits, the error did ruin Hamilton’s final medium tire run.
After returning to the pits, Hamilton made the switch to the soft tire for a qualifying simulation and duly delivered a lap 1.2 seconds quicker than the rest of the field, laying a firm benchmark down for Rosberg and the chasing pack.
Despite going quickest in the first sector, Rosberg was unable to match the pace of his teammate across the rest of the lap, leaving him 0.123 seconds behind in second place.
Ferrari’s strong form continued in FP3 as Sebastian Vettel finished third, half a second behind Rosberg. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen was a further three-tenths back in P4.
Valtteri Bottas ended the session fifth for Williams ahead of the Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg. Romain Grosjean produced a late lap to move up to seventh for Lotus ahead of Sergio Perez and teammate Pastor Maldonado, while Max Verstappen rounded out the top ten for Toro Rosso.
Red Bull had a difficult session that saw Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat finish 11th and 13th respectively, split by Williams’ Felipe Massa. Fernando Alonso bounced back from his Friday issues to finish 14th ahead of compatriot Carlos Sainz Jr.
The Sauber duo of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr ended FP3 16th and 17th respectively, as Jenson Button, Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi propped up the timesheets.