Austrian GP: Vettel on top in FP3, Verstappen hits trouble

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.

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

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 Turn 3 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 teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

However, his session 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.

Once the yellow flags were withdrawn following the recovery of Verstappen's car, Kevin Magnussen jumped to seventh in his Haas before teammate Romain Grosjean edged ahead by a tenth.

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

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

ClaDriverChassisEngineLapsTimeGap
1 germany Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 22 1'04.070  
2 united_kingdom Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 24 1'04.099 0.029
3 finland Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes Mercedes 24 1'04.204 0.134
4 finland Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari Ferrari 22 1'04.470 0.400
5 netherlands Max Verstappen  Red Bull TAG 14 1'04.791 0.721
6 australia Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull TAG 18 1'04.891 0.821
7 france Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 17 1'04.916 0.846
8 denmark Kevin Magnussen  Haas Ferrari 16 1'05.013 0.943
9 spain Carlos Sainz  Renault Renault 22 1'05.086 1.016
10 monaco Charles Leclerc  Sauber Ferrari 25 1'05.219 1.149
11 germany Nico Hulkenberg  Renault Renault 19 1'05.228 1.158
12 france Pierre Gasly  Toro Rosso Honda 25 1'05.264 1.194
13 france Esteban Ocon  Force India Mercedes 21 1'05.444 1.374
14 spain Fernando Alonso  McLaren Renault 19 1'05.448 1.378
15 mexico Sergio Perez  Force India Mercedes 24 1'05.502 1.432
16 sweden Marcus Ericsson  Sauber Ferrari 27 1'05.699 1.629
17 new_zealand Brendon Hartley  Toro Rosso Honda 23 1'05.705 1.635
18 belgium Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren Renault 16 1'05.837 1.767
19 canada Lance Stroll  Williams Mercedes 23 1'06.029 1.959
20 russia Sergey Sirotkin  Williams Mercedes 22 1'06.318 2.248
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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Austrian GP
Track Red Bull Ring
Article type Practice report