Austrian Grand Prix: Vettel usurps Mercedes in final practice

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in final practice for the Austrian Grand Prix as Ferrari overhauled Formula 1 rival Mercedes ahead of qualifying at the Red Bull Ring

Austrian Grand Prix: Vettel usurps Mercedes in final practice

Vettel emerged on top of a rapidly-changing battle between the two teams through the session to beat title rival Lewis Hamilton by just 0.029 seconds.

Valtteri Bottas lapped just over a tenth slower than Vettel but the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen was a quarter of a second further off the pace.

Raikkonen was the first driver to set a flying lap and worked his way into the 1m04s before being usurped by Vettel by just 0.017s.

Bottas and Hamilton, who had traffic on his first flying lap, followed the Ferraris as the top four lapped barely a tenth apart, before Vettel pumped in a 1m04.699s.

Hamilton's next flier was 0.027s faster than that, before Bottas bested both on a 1m04.594s.

Vettel set a personal best but could not wrest back top spot and fell 0.006s short of Bottas's time at the end of the opening half an hour.

Hamilton and Raikkonen then wasted chances to go quickest, Hamilton sliding wide at the exit of the Turn 3 hairpin and Raikkonen skating across the gravel through the fast Turn 7-8 esses.

Raikkonen continued after that off and his next flying lap, completed without error, put him fastest on a 1m04.470s.

The succession of improvements continued though, and with 20 minutes to go Vettel returned to top of the pile on a 1m04.159s.

That briefly established a Ferrari one-two but Bottas ended that almost immediately with a time 0.045s slower than Vettel's.

The gap grew slightly when Vettel posted his final improvement, a 1m04.070s, with just over 15 minutes left, before Hamilton got back ahead of Bottas by a tenth.

With Ferrari and Mercedes engaged in a private battle at the top of the leaderboard, Red Bull ended up a distant fifth and sixth, 0.7s back.

Max Verstappen had a trip through the gravel on the exit of Turn 4 midway through the session but improved later on to get ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Verstappen's session then ended early when he ran slightly off-track again at Turn 4 and then pulled up on the right-hand side of the circuit, reporting his Renault engine had switched off. Initial reports from the team suggested an electrical problem.

Once the yellow flags were withdrawn following the recovery of Verstappen's car, Kevin Magnussen jumped to seventh in his Haas before team-mate Romain Grosjean edged ahead by a tenth.

They were the last drivers to lap within a second of Vettel as Renault's Carlos Sainz Jr and Charles Leclerc completed the top 10.

Leclerc prevented any final improvements in the last two minutes when he stopped his Sauber with a reported engine problem on the right-hand side of the circuit just after exiting the pitlane.

FP3 times

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m04.070s - 22
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m04.099s 0.029s 24
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m04.204s 0.134s 24
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m04.470s 0.400s 22
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m04.791s 0.721s 14
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m04.891s 0.821s 18
7 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m04.916s 0.846s 17
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m05.013s 0.943s 16
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault 1m05.086s 1.016s 22
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m05.219s 1.149s 25
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m05.228s 1.158s 19
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m05.264s 1.194s 25
13 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m05.444s 1.374s 21
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m05.448s 1.378s 19
15 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m05.502s 1.432s 24
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m05.699s 1.629s 27
17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m05.705s 1.635s 23
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m05.837s 1.767s 16
19 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m06.029s 1.959s 23
20 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m06.318s 2.248s 22


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Series Formula 1
Drivers Sebastian Vettel
Teams Mercedes
Author Scott Mitchell
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