Austria FP3: Vettel shows his hand

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel showed his hand in the final free practice session of the Austrian Grand Prix weekend, by claiming top spot on the timing screens at the end of the one hour session at Red Bull Ring.

The German traded fastest laps with title rival Lewis Hamilton before posting a new lap record to finish clear of the field.

Vettel’s best lap of 1:05.092 was a quarter of a second up on title rival Lewis Hamilton who was second fastest, and who was 0.154 of a second quicker than his Mercedes teammate Valterri Bottas.

In the wake of his five place grid penalty for a new gearbox,  Hamilton’s run ended with a big brake lock-up into turn three as, having dominated Friday practice, he had to settle for second best.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in the other Ferrari, albeit half a second down on his teammate, suggesting that it will be Mercedes vs Ferrari battle for the front row of the grid in the afternoon’s qualifying session at Red Bull Ring.

The Red Bull pair, at their home race, were next with Max Verstappen fifth and Azerbaijan race-winner Daniel Ricciardo sixth.

Kevin Magnussen beat  teammate Romain Grosjean into seventh as the Haas pair showed handy pace around the track set in the picturesque Spielberg hillside.

Daniil Kvyat was ninth in the Toro Rosso ahead of his colleague Carlos Sainz, who had suffered an engine issue early in the session, but nevertheless managing to make it two Toro Rossos in the top 10.

Force India’s Esteban Ocon was 11th, followed by Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault and the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne.

Jolyon Palmer put the sister Renault in 14th, with Fernando Alonso down in 15th after McLaren confirmed they had to replace his upgraded Honda engine, new for this weekend, for an older specification.

Williams struggled as Lance Stroll was 16th fastest with team-mate Felipe Massa below him. Sergio Perez was 18th with the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein again bringing up the rear.

After giving Hamilton’s car the once-over, Mercedes confirmed shortly after practice that the lock-up had led to a brake-disc failure but that the relevant parts would be replaced in plenty of time for qualifying.

Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull Ring – Free Practice 3, Best Lap Times 

1 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:05.092   18
2 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:05.361 +0.269s 21
3 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:05.515 +0.423s 19
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:05.611 +0.519s 19
5 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:05.784 +0.692s 24
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:05.896 +0.804s 29
7 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:05.936 +0.844s 21
8 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:06.015 +0.923s 22
9 26 Daniil Kvyat TORO ROSSO 1:06.279 +1.187s 28
10 55 Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO 1:06.284 +1.192s 19
11 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:06.374 +1.282s 26
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:06.563 +1.471s 18
13 2 Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN HONDA 1:06.578 +1.486s 18
14 30 Jolyon Palmer RENAULT 1:06.595 +1.503s 22
15 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN HONDA 1:06.599 +1.507s 20
16 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:06.776 +1.684s 22
17 19 Felipe Massa WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:06.865 +1.773s 24
18 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1:06.875 +1.783s 28
19 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 1:07.378 +2.286s 21
20 94 Pascal Wehrlein SAUBER FERRARI 1:07.468 +2.376s 25