SAO PAULO – German Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel set a new track record in Saturday’s third and final free practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, the second-to-last race of the 2018 Formula One season.
Vettel recorded a fastest lap of one minute, 7.948 seconds at the 4.309-kilometer Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, a circuit located in Sao Paulo’s Interlagos neighborhood.
That was more than two-tenths of a second quicker than the best lap posted by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who clocked a time of 1:08.165.
Hamilton wrapped up his fifth F1 drivers’ title two weeks ago at the Mexican Grand Prix.
Two Finnish drivers, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, finished third and fourth, respectively, in the one-hour FP3.
Bottas and Hamilton are expected to clinch a fifth consecutive constructors’ title on Sunday for Mercedes (585 points), which leads Ferrari by 55 points.
Vettel and Raikkonen need to garner at least 13 points more than their Mercedes counterparts on Sunday to keep the constructors’ race alive until the season’s final race – the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Nov. 25.
The last time that happened was at the Austrian Grand Prix on July 1, when Raikkonen and Vettel finished second (18 points) and third (15 points), respectively, and Hamilton and Bottas were both forced to retire due to car failure and were not awarded any points.
A qualifying session late Saturday afternoon will determine the grid spots for Sunday’s 71-lap, 306-km Brazilian GP.