Bottas completes clean sweep in Portuguese practice

PORTIMAO, PORTUGAL (AFP) – Valtteri Bottas completed a clean sweep in Portuguese Grand Prix free practice when topping the third and final session yesterday ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

The Finn, who returned a ‘double-top’ on Friday, clocked a best lap in one minute and 16.654 seconds to outpace the six-time champion by 0.026 seconds on a bright and warm day at the Algarve track.

Hamilton, who leads Bottas by 69 points in the drivers’ title race, rebounded from a disappointing opening day, when he was eighth, to prove he has learned his way round the challenging new Algarve International Circuit, albeit that he had an ‘off’ into the gravel at Turn Seven, damaging a front wing end-plate.

Max Verstappen was third for Red Bull, 0.158 seconds off the pace, ahead of Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, Alex Albon in the second Red Bull and Charles Leclerc in the leading Ferrari.

Carlos Sainz and his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris were seventh and ninth, separated by Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, with Esteban Ocon 10th in the leading Renault.

Ocon’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was 14th after a frustrating session during which his car required minor repairs and four-time champion Sebastian Vettle was 11th for Ferrari as he seeks to complete his Ferrari career ‘with dignity’.

The session, which ended prematurely when a drain cover lifted and opened at Turn 14, was run in warm and dry conditions, the track temperature rising from 22 degrees to 30.

Mercedes’ Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas drives during the third practice session. PHOTO: AFP