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Mercedes appear to be in strong shape ahead of qualifying for the 2018 Formula One Russian Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton topped the final practice session in Sochi.

In a repeat of FP2 on Friday, Hamilton was ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas after posting a track-record time of one minute, 33.067 seconds. Sebastian Vettel was a distant third for Ferrari.

Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo will begin Sunday’s race from the back of the grid after they were hit with penalties for fitting new Renault engines to their cars.

The drivers will be back in action later in the day for qualifying. Here’s a look at who was in the best form during the morning runs.


FP3 Recap

These are the standings from final practice in Sochi:

With a penalty looming for tomorrow’s race, Ricciardo took some time out before FP3 to watch the AFL Grand Final:

Having been dominated by Mercedes in the second session on Friday, it was little surprise to see the Ferrari drivers out early on and looking to post quick times ahead of qualifying, with Vettel eventually taking an early lead from team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

At this juncture, the leading teams were on the quickest tyre, including Mercedes when they came out. Unsurprisingly, Hamilton moved to the top of the pile, with Bottas tucked in behind him in second spot.

Vettel, in his attempts to cut the gap down to the Silver Arrows, was beginning to get a little sloppy in his driving:

But in the end, there was a clear chasm between the two teams, and Mercedes were able to safely see out the final stages of the session with a massive six-tenths of a second between Hamilton and Vettel.

Hamilton produced an incredible lap to take pole in Singapore in the previous race, stunning his Ferrari rival. On this evidence, it will take something even more spectacular from Vettel and Raikkonen to make their way on to the front row at the expense of a Mercedes.  

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