Mercedes finished the final day of practice at the forthcoming European Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas leading the field ahead of the weekend’s final practice session in Qatar.
Hamilton was fastest ahead of team-mate Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, with Bottas finishing fourth on the timesheets for Mercedes.
Orica-Scott’s Alex Lynn, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and Manor Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein completed the top five.
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Conversely, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen did not even make it out of first practice, finishing an astonishing seven seconds behind Hamilton and Rosberg in fourth place.
Understandably, Verstappen’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo was on hand to give a timely rundown of the mechanics’ and the team’s efforts in overcoming their driver’s accident in the afternoon of qualifying, which effectively ended the race for Red Bull.
“We have two cars, both working at peak level. Max is struggling mentally. It’s not as if we aren’t fixin’ to put our own problems behind us and concentrate on completing the rest of the weekend,” Ricciardo said.
“It’s a horrible feeling having to explain to people that we are equally or more competitive than the others. We’re not going to keep losing track position or having to hit the wall or be out of the race. That’s quite difficult to understand.”
On a glorious morning of sunshine, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen closed the gap on Hamilton and Vettel to 0.4 seconds, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen a further 0.4 seconds back in fifth.