Bottas leads Hamilton in final Qatar practice

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Nov 20 (Reuters) – Valtteri Bottas led seven instances Formula One world champion staff mate Lewis Hamilton in an ominous Mercedes one-two in final practice for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix on Saturday.

Red Bull’s championship chief Max Verstappen, who’s 14 factors away from Hamilton with three races remaining in the Middle East, was third quickest however 0.341 seconds off the tempo set by Bottas.

Bottas, who has taken three pole positions in the final 4 races and lapped quickest in Friday practice, put in a finest time of 1 minute 22.310 seconds and was 0.078 faster than Hamilton.

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Verstappen did fewer laps than Hamilton after dropping time as Red Bull labored on his automobile’s fluttering rear wing — a topical subject after the staff made accusations about obvious wing flexing on Hamilton’s Mercedes.

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, who was persistently quick on Friday, was fourth with Verstappen’s staff mate Sergio Perez fifth.

Russian rookie Nikita Mazepin, who missed Friday’s second session as his Haas staff modified the chassis, had one other irritating session and once more did not set a time with the engine management unit and loom needing to get replaced.

Qualifying for the floodlit evening race is scheduled to start out at 1400 GMT.

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Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, Editing by Hugh Lawson

Formula One F1 - Qatar Grand Prix - Losail International Circuit, Lusail, Qatar - November 20, 2021 Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas during practice REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Formula One F1 - Qatar Grand Prix - Losail International Circuit, Lusail, Qatar - November 20, 2021 Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas during practice REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Formula One F1 - Qatar Grand Prix - Losail International Circuit, Lusail, Qatar - November 20, 2021 Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas during practice REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani