Max Verstappen sets the pace in final practice for the USGP.
Final practice topped by the ‘Bulls as Mercedes’ time on the supersoft tyres came late on but did not show on the leaderboard. Seeing Red Bull one-two the session and run fastest through the opening sector.
Ricciardo and Verstappen were out early on in the hour-long session as the ‘Bulls set the initial pace on the medium compound tyres.
Their benchmark was, however, easily beatable by the Ferrari’s as the Italian team came out with the supersoft rubber. With Raikkonen initially going top by four-tenths of a second, before Vettel edged ahead by two-tenths.
A poor sign for Ferrari, though, came soon after as Rosberg lapped four-tenths faster than his fellow German while running on the soft tyres. Vettel then returned to the Ferrari garage requesting the team inspected his gearbox after losing power in 5th gear. Sebastian would not run again in the session.
While Vettel was garage bound, the Red Bulls returned to the track for their qualifying simulation runs. Seeing Ricciardo post purple times across the board to go top, 1.1 seconds faster than the Ferrari.
Hamilton then lapped faster in the middle sector on the yellow-walled softs. Completing his run three-tenths faster than his team-mate.
Verstappen then had the better of his team-mate. Taking the top spot with his own set of purples for a two-tenth lead.
Late runs for the Mercedes duo on supersoft rubber may have seen Verstappen’s time bettered. But after going faster through the middle sector, Rosberg ran wide at the penultimate corner before abandoning his lap. Hamilton, too, aborted his run after catching the Sauber of Nasr.
Overnight concerns for Hamilton’s car saw Mercedes break the paddock curfew. With the team staying up late and coming in early in order to change his fuel system. Lewis’ session then took a late start as he showed his car to actress Christoph Waltz.
The early stages of the session meanwhile were interrupted by a red flag for Pascal Wehrlein. With the Manor driver losing the rear of his car on turn in at Turn 19, beaching himself in the gravel.
As he sat in the gravel awaiting assistance, the team begged the German to switch off his engine as temperatures began to rise. Initially, he ignored their cries but eventually Pascal gave in to the team’s wishes and switched off his engine. But only after he was forced to get out of the car in order for it to be lifted.
Carlos Sainz also had an interrupted session as he suffered two separate punctures. Firstly his right rear gave way as he clipped the kerbs through the esses. Then secondly a rear left puncture when out on the supersofts, having set his best lap to go 8th fastest, 1.6s down on leader Ricciardo. Later falling to 15th as times lowered.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||16||1’36.766|
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||19||1’37.032||0.266||0.266|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||17||1’37.948||1.182||0.054|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India||16||1’38.512||1.746||0.06|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||16||1’38.691||1.925||0.084|
|15||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||6||1’38.710||1.944||0.019|