Bottas ruins quick run with practice crash

The Finn, who is already set to receive a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox, clocked a fastest lap of one minute, 29.055 seconds ahead of afternoon qualifying at Suzuka.

Valtteri Bottas driving the (77) Mercedes crashes into a track barrier during final practice at Suzuka Circuit in Japan.   -  Getty Images

Valtteri Bottas topped the timesheets in Saturday's third free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, before smashing his Mercedes into a wall at high speed.

The Finn, who is already set to receive a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox, clocked a fastest lap of one minute, 29.055 seconds ahead of afternoon qualifying at Suzuka.

Read:  Hamilton extracts more from the car, admits frustrated Bottas

Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton went second quickest in 1:29.069 and Sebastian Vettel - who trails the Briton by 34 points with five races left this season - 0.3 seconds adrift, while Kimi Raikkonen also hit a wall in the second Ferrari.

Bottas cut a dejected figure soon afterwards after losing control of his car exiting the fast left-hand 'Spoon' curve and crashing into the barriers, damaging his right rear suspension.

When practice resumed after a 10-minute halt to remove debris from Bottas's vehicle, Raikkonen soon followed suit, shunting his car into a wall and bringing another halt to proceedings.

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Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who stunned Hamilton to win in Malaysia last weekend, registered the fourth fastest lap in 1:29.910 ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo, with Esteban Ocon's Force India next quickest.

Vettel, who set the early pace on a rain-hit Friday in Japan, locked-up and himself skidded onto gravel at the same curve as Raikkonen, realistically needs to win this weekend to revive his fading title hopes.

Leading lap times from the third free practice at the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday:

1. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes 1:29.055, 2. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes 1:29.069, 3. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari 1:29.379, 4. Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull 1:29.910, 5. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull 1:30.018, 6. Esteban Ocon (FRA) Force India 1:30.109, 7. Nico HŶlkenberg (GER) Renault 1:30.315, 8. Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren 1:30.424, 9. Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India 1:30.563, 10. Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault 1:30.764, 11. Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams 1:30.764, 12. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren 1:30.770, 13. Carlos Sainz (ESP) Toro Rosso 1:30.799, 14. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas 1:30.982, 15. Lance Stroll (CAN) Williams 1:31.011, 16. Pierre Gasly (FRA) Toro Rosso 1:31.353, 17. Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas 1:31.459, 18. Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber 1:32.579, 19. Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Sauber 1:32.698, 20. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari 1:33.962