Valtteri Bottas on top of 3rd place but Max Verstappen joins the fight for pole in Portugal

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Lewis Hamilton struggles at the eighth turn in P3 at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton struggles at the eighth turn in P3 at the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas achieved a Portuguese GP hat-trick ahead of F1’s Portimao debut setting the tone in final practice ahead of Lewis Hamilton, but Max Verstappen also appears to be a real candidate for pole.

It was a last hour of frantic training in the Algarve sun after a heavily disrupted Friday, and there were different strategies throughout as well as lots of mistakes, with championship leader Hamilton finding the gravel.

Bottas finished the session 0.026 seconds ahead of his teammate Mercedes, following his best times in P1 and P2 ahead qualifying at 2 p.m. on Sky F1 – when he looks to seal his second consecutive pole in F1 2020.

But Verstappen is likely to pose a threat to Red Bull, who have moved closer to Mercedes in recent weeks.

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The Dutchman finished just a tenth of a second slower than the Mercedes, and posted his best time on the slower medium tire than on the soft tire.

He was also momentarily the fastest of all in the session, before having his time canceled for one of the many track limit violations.

Pierre Gasly, whose Friday was cut short after an AlphaTauri fire, also had a superb session, just 0.276s from Bottas’ time. He was just ahead of Alex Albon, the Red Bull rider who, like Verstappen, was on the mids.

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Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc turns at turn 14 in third practice at the Portimao circuit.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc turns at turn 14 in third practice at the Portimao circuit.

Charles Leclerc, meanwhile, continued his strong start to the weekend for Ferrari – finishing sixth despite a rotation after back-to-back P4s on Friday – although his teammate Sebastian Vettel was only 11th.

But the pecking order in midfield is harder to predict than ever.

Gasly’s hour would have come as a shock for many teams, including McLaren who has made good progress this weekend, with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris in the top 10 P3 before qualifying.

Sergio Perez was the lead for Racing Point in eighth, while Lance Stroll was in 16th, while Renault’s form Daniel Ricciardo was 14th after suffering a DRS issue in the session.

Portuguese GP timesheet

Chauffeur Team Time
1) Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1: 16,654
2) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0,026
3) Max Verstappen Red Bull +0,158
4) Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +0,276
5) Alexandre Albon Red Bull +0,463
6) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0,575
7) Carlos Sainz McLaren +0,584
8) Sergio Perez Race point +0,643
9) Lando Norris McLaren +0,824
10) Esteban Ocon Renault +1,012
11) Sébastien Vettel Ferrari +1,031
12) Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri +1,066
13) Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo +1,268
14) Daniel Ricciardo Renault +1,281
15) George Russell Williams +1,378
16) spear walk Race point +1,446
17) Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo +1,547
18) Kevin Magnussen Haas +1,633
19) Nicolas Latifi Williams +1,743
20) Romain Grosjean Haas +1.800

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