Austrian Grand Prix: Leclerc pips Hamilton to fastest time in FP3

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc pipped the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton to set the pace in the final Formula 1 practice session before qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix

Austrian Grand Prix: Leclerc pips Hamilton to fastest time in FP3

Leclerc was the only driver to lap below 1m04s at the Red Bull Ring as FP3 set up an enticing Ferrari versus Mercedes battle for pole position.

Bahrain poleman Leclerc had control of the 60-minute session throughout and enjoyed a comfortable advantage after the first runs.

His 1m04.275s left him almost four tenths clear of the lead Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who had a tiny advantage over Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Hamilton.

Bottas moved to the top of the times on his first flying lap on a second set of new soft tyres, eclipsing Leclerc's time by half a tenth.

However, Leclerc improved twice on his second run and ended on a 1m03.987s - with his other lap, a 1m04.120s, also good enough for top spot.

Hamilton lapped 0.010 seconds slower than Leclerc initially but ended the session 0.143s behind after failing to improve again.

He was a tenth clear of Bottas, with the second Ferrari of Vettel 0.263s slower than his team-mate in fourth.

Verstappen slipped to fifth in the lead Red Bull, although he did not hook up his best sectors.

He was 0.459s slower than Leclerc after failing to improve in the final part of the lap on his first new-tyre run, and then aborting a quicker lap shortly after - complaining that "the changes we made are not good".

Verstappen's Red Bull team-mate Pierre Gasly had a troubled start to the session when he reported "really low power" and spent the opening phase of FP3 in the pits.

However, he emerged with enough time to completely two runs as normal, but ended up only seventh and 1.2s off the pace.

That gap allowed Lando Norris to split the Red Bulls in his McLaren, which was just within a second of Leclerc's best - 0.999s off the pace.

His team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr finished the session eighth fastest, ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo and the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat.

The tight midfield battle will be even more competitive than usual at the short Austrian circuit.

Half a second covered Sainz in eighth to Lance Stroll's Racing Point in 16th.

Haas endured a difficult session, with its cars 15th (Romain Grosjean) and 18th (Kevin Magnussen).

The team also needs to change the gearbox on Magnussen's car before qualifying, which will hand the Dane a grid penalty.

FP3 times

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m03.987s - 18
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m04.130s 0.143s 21
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m04.221s 0.234s 23
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m04.250s 0.263s 20
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1m04.446s 0.459s 18
6 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1m04.986s 0.999s 19
7 Pierre Gasly Red Bull/Honda 1m05.152s 1.165s 15
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 1m05.219s 1.232s 22
9 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m05.336s 1.349s 17
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 1m05.391s 1.404s 25
11 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso/Honda 1m05.481s 1.494s 29
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m05.514s 1.527s 21
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m05.514s 1.527s 21
14 Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 1m05.523s 1.536s 18
15 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m05.620s 1.633s 20
16 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1m05.650s 1.663s 17
17 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m05.878s 1.891s 19
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m06.017s 2.030s 11
19 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1m06.676s 2.689s 23
20 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 1m07.484s 3.497s 23


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