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Mexico GP: Verstappen leads, Bottas hits trouble in Practice 3

Written by  Oct 27, 2018

Max Verstappen ensured Red Bull completed a practice sweep at the Mexican Grand Prix but Ferrari and Mercedes are back in contention on a much cooler Saturday.

Damp conditions from overnight rain at the start of the session meant the drivers stayed in the garage for the opening 30 minutes with the track too wet for slicks and too dry for intermediates.

It would be Fernando Alonso who broke the silence setting the first lap time on the slicks with the rest of the field heading out for qualifying simulations.

After struggling in the heat on Friday, Sebastian Vettel immediately used the straight line speed of the Ferrari to go top of the timesheets.

Verstappen would then look to respond with his first timed lap but a hydraulics problem for Valtteri Bottas in the stadium section would see the Virtual Safety Car deployed to recover his Mercedes.

When the track went green, Charles Leclerc set an impressive time to go fastest in the Sauber and initially, Mercedes and Ferrari struggled to beat the Monegasque.

Verstappen then restored order by going 0.775s clear in P1 with a 1m16.284s, a time that would go unbeaten in the final flurry of laps.

Something resembling a normal order was then established as Lewis Hamilton improved to finish second, a quarter of a second behind the Red Bull and just three-hundredths clear of Vettel in third.

Their revival thanks largely to the much cooler conditions in Mexico City under very overcast skies and a threat of thunderstorms for qualifying later.

Both Red Bulls weren't completely trouble-free either with both Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, who was fourth after only completing one timed lap which was disrupted in the final sector, reporting battery problems with the ERS not charging.

Leclerc's time kept him at the head of the midfield in sixth with Carlos Sainz also continuing Renault's strong pace in seventh. Pierre Gasly was eighth for Toro Rosso with Marcus Ericsson and Nico Hulkenberg completing the top 10.

The full finishing order from Practice 3 can be seen below:

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