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Vettel smashes Interlagos lap record

The four-time champion German clocked a best lap in one minute and 7.948 seconds to outpace new five-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes by two-tenths of a second.

Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel sits in his car at the pits at the Interlagos racetrack in Sao Paulo, Brazil on 10 November 2018, on the eve of the Brazil Formula One Grand Prix. Picture: AFP

SAO PAULO - Sebastian Vettel smashed the outright lap record as he topped the times for Ferrari in Saturday morning’s third and final practice ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

The four-time champion German clocked a best lap in one minute and 7.948 seconds to outpace new five-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes by two-tenths of a second.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was the previous record holder with his lap for pole position last year, was third-quickest ahead of Sauber-bound fellow-Finn Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari.

Max Verstappen, winner of the Mexican Grand Prix two weeks ago, was fifth ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Renault-bound Australian Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen, and his Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean.

Pierre Gasly, who will succeed Ricciardo at Red Bull, was ninth for Toro Rosso and Charles Leclerc, the Monegasque prodigy who will join Ferrari next year, was 10th for Sauber.

Hamilton’s session was affected by a loose oil breather pipe in the first period, delaying him from clocking any serious laps until half an hour had passed.

By then, Vettel was on top, but he was outpaced by the Englishman and Raikkonen before he regained the momentum with his fastest lap with 19 minutes remaining.

It was the 10th time this year that Vettel had been quickest in FP3, but he has claimed only one pole position in his last 12 qualifying sessions.

On a significantly warmer day at Interlagos, the job-hunting Ocon impressed again, taking 12 th, but he is likely to be hit by a grid penalty after Force India changed his gearbox. Ricciardo also has a penalty after Red Bull replaced his turbo.

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