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US GP: Vettel leads tightly packed top three in busy Practice 3

Written by  Oct 20, 2018

Sebastian Vettel jumped to the top of the timesheets as the top three was covered by less than a tenth of a second in a busy Practice 3 at the United States GP.

After the rain of Friday, conditions were dry in Austin on Saturday afternoon allowing teams crucial time to prepare for both qualifying later and the race on Sunday.

Unsurprisingly, there was a number of different approaches taken with Ferrari focusing more on single lap pace for the first 45 minutes before completing a short high-fuel run at the end.

That meant, Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen led throughout the hour exchanging positions on several occasions before the German posted a 1m33.797s on the Ultrasoft tyres, less than half a tenth clear of his teammate.

Lewis Hamilton meanwhile focused on long run pace on the Supersoft tyre for a while before completing several qualifying-style laps towards the end.

Initially, the man that dominated in the wet struggled as he ran wide at several corners, on a fresh set of Ultrasofts though, Hamilton moved upto third and within a tenth of the pacesetting Ferrari.

Valtteri Bottas was 0.65s back in fourth but would still lead the two Red Bulls in fifth and sixth as Max Verstappen led Daniel Ricciardo by two-tenths.

The midfield wasn't far behind the Australian either with Charles Leclerc 'best of the rest' in seventh but only four-tenths back in the Sauber.

Force India, Renault and Haas all had a car in the top 10 with Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean covered by just 0.057s.

Despite the large amount of running, with all but three drivers completing over 20 laps, there were no significant incidents despite a half spin for Brendon Hartley at Turn 19 causing a brief yellow flag period.

Vettel and Hamilton also had a minor altercation on the track with Seb holding Lewis back during the first sector while Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas also had a small duel at Turn 1.

The full timings from final practice can be seen below:

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