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Bottas quickest in FP3 as Verstappen serves notice

NEWS STORY
12/09/2020

Ahead of today's sole practice session, the air temperature is 27.5 degrees C, while the track temperature is 39 degrees. Once again it is bright and sunny.

Valtteri Bottas topped the timesheets in both of yesterday's sessions, with teammate, Lewis Hamilton, the Bulls and the Renaults - soon to be Alpines - in hot pursuit.

On the longer runs however, the Points were very much in the mix, while the AlphaTauris also looked quite good.

Lando Norris crashed out in FP2, while Sergio Perez was handed a one-place grid penalty for causing a collision with Kimi Raikkonen.

Indeed, the Finn, who made his F1 (test) debut here twenty years ago (yesterday), has looked very good thus far.

Celebrating its 1000th Formula One World Championship Grand Prix - on it won track - Ferrari has looked OK, but in all honesty it's early days.

With the novelty of driving an F1 car at this fantastic facility wearing off, today we can expect some serious pace on this most challenging of tracks.

The pitlane opens and Magnussen is first out, followed, shortly after, by Kvyat, Sainz and Grosjean. All are on the mediums.

Bottas is the first of the big guns to appear, sporting softs the Finn has the track all to himself.

Unlike those before him, the Finn stays out for a second lap, and it's a flyer. Taking full advantage of the track - and then some - he subsequently posts a 17.437, around 0.5s off yesterday's best.

The Mercedes driver subsequently pits and the track falls silent. Twelve minutes in and there is only one name on the board.

Seventeen minutes in, Raikkonen heads out in the Alfa, which is shod with softs. He is followed by his teammate, Giovinazzi.

As Raikkonen begins his first flyer, Sainz, Grosjean and the Ferraris head out.

The Finn posts 18.469, with Giovinazzi stopping the clock at 19.324 shortly after.

More drivers head out now, including Hamilton.

Sainz goes third with a 19.164, while Vettel can only manage 19.793.

Leclerc goes second with an 18.333, 0.896s off Bottas' best, albeit on the mediums.

Quickest in Turn 2, Hamilton crosses the line at 17.415, to go quickest by 0.022s.

Norris goes fifth (18.896), ahead of Latifi, Sainz, Ricciardo and Giovinazzi.

After 25 minutes, Verstappen is the only driver still to appear, while Albon reports some "pretty aggressive misfires".

"Turn 1 super understeery," reports Sainz, "everywhere else oversteery."

As Albon (mediums) goes fifth (18.275), Verstappen heads out. All but Russell are on track.

Grosjean gesticulates at Giovinazzi and it isn't to say buongiorno.

Bottas improves to 17.239, while, moments later, Verstappen posts 17.298 to go second, just 0.059s off the pace... on mediums!

Stroll goes fourth on the mediums with a 17.580, ahead of Leclerc, Albon, Raikkonen, Ocon and Perez.

A 17.116 sees Verstappen go top, as Mercedes appears to have a fight on its hands.

Williams reveals that Russell's problem - he has yet to post a time - is brake-related.

Clearly sniffing some Tuscan glory, Verstappen switches to the softs.

"You need to tell me more about everything," says the Dutchman. Well, Max, billions of years ago the earth was a molten mass...

Bottas and Albon head out on fresh sets of the red-banded rubbers as the qualifying sims get underway.

Quickest in the first two sectors, Bottas posts 16.530 to go quickest by 0.586.

Vettel improves to 6th with an 18.186, while Hamilton can 'only' manage 16.613, following a poor final sector.

An 18.072 sees Latifi go sixth, ahead of Vettel, while Leclerc is warned of a headwind into Turn 1.

Gasly goes ninth (18.434), ahead of Raikkonen, at which point the Finn improves to sixth with a 17.843.

Magnussen goes seventh (18.039), ahead of Latifi and Vettel.

Gasly improves to fourth with a 17.226, as Stroll goes sixth, Kvyat seventh and Grosjean eighth.

Sainz can only manage ninth (17.768), as teammate Norris seeks to improve on 18th.

Giovinazzi improves to tenth (17.812), ahead of his teammate, as Stroll looks set to improve on 17.580. The Canadian subsequently posts 17.112 to go third.

Gasly takes a quick trip through the gravel after running wide in Turn 11.

We've yet to see the Bulls on the softs, and with 6 minutes remaining they are leaving it tantalisingly late.

Ocon improves to 10th with a 17.746, while Ricciardo aborts following a mistake in the opening sector.

Quickest in the final sector, Verstappen crosses the line at 16.547, to go second, splitting the Black Arrows. Albon is still on the mediums.

"I'm sorry to Kimi, but you should have told me, I absolutely ****** his lap," admits Leclerc.

Due to traffic, Ricciardo can only manage 18.142 to go 16th, despite posting PBs in all three sectors.

Perez improves to sixth with a 17.341, as Vettel heads out again. The German is currently 17th, 1.656 off the pace.

Albon finally heads out on the softs, but doesn't appear to have the time in which to complete a flying lap.

A 17.538 sees the cat-loving Thai go eighth, albeit 1.008s off Bottas' time. The youngster making a costly mistake in the final sector.

The session ends. Bottas is quickest, ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton, Stroll, Gasly, Perez, Leclerc, Albon, Kvyat and Grosjean.

Ocon is eleventh, ahead of Sainz, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Magnussen, Latifi, Ricciardo, Vettel, Norris and Russell, who failed to post a time.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Mugello, here.

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