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Bottas outpaces Hamilton, Mercedes rule in final practice

Lewis Hamilton was edged by his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in final practice for the French GP © AFP / GERARD JULIEN

LE CASTELLET, France, Jun 22Valtteri Bottas outpaced Lewis Hamilton to top the times as Mercedes dominated again in final free practice for Sunday’s French Grand Prix.

The Finn, who lies 29 points adrift of the defending five times world champion in this year’s title race, clocked a best lap in one minute and 30.159 seconds, beating Hamilton by four-hundredths of a second.

On another very hot day, with a gusty wind, at the Le Castellet track 25km from the Mediterranean in the south of France, Bottas picked up where he left off on Friday afternoon by continuing to set the pace on a circuit that clearly suits his style.

Monaco’s Charles Leclerc, adopted as a Frenchman by local supporters, was third-fastest ahead of his Ferrari team-mate four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, still prickling after the team had lost in their bid to review and overturn his penalty, and lost victory, in Canada.

Max Verstappen was fifth for Red Bull ahead of team-mate Frenchman Pierre Gasly with British rookie Lando Norris an impressive seventh for the resurgent McLaren team.

Daniel Ricciardo was eighth in the leading Renault ahead of Carlos Sainz in the second McLaren and one-time champion Kimi Raikkonen of Alfa Romeo.

In a relatively incident-free session, the Williams team continued to struggle with George Russell being forced to trundle back to the pits with a power problem.

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