Nico Rosberg topped the times in the final practice session of the weekend, by just five hundredths of a second from Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team-mate Lewis Hamilton. There was just four tenths of a second splitting the top six, which should make for an interesting battle as we go into qualifying later today.
The German set a time of 1:15.738 to take the top spot on a set of the super-soft tyre compound, just five hundredths of second ahead of the Brit, who after being behind Rosberg all weekend, was closer to his team-mate today than in any other session.
Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo was third, despite not heading out onto the track until just after the midway point of the session. The Australian looked pacy, as he finished just under a tenth of a second shy of leader Rosberg.
The Scuderia Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, just one tenth further back, with team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who spent a lot of time in the pits during this session in fifth, a further two tenths off the pace. It is clear from this session that there is not much between the Red Bull and the Ferrari at all, which should lead to a close run qualifying session.
Max Verstappen finished the session in sixth place, four tenths down on his team-mate, but the Dutchman did however experience problems with energy recovery during FP3, reporting over team radio that his battery was not charging.
Williams Martini Racing drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, who ran the latest specification of their new front wing on both cars here in Germany, were seventh and eighth, not too far off the pace of the Red Bull and Ferrari’s going into qualifying, and could pick up the pace as they often do, later today.
McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso was a solid ninth for the Woking based squad, a positive performance at a track which does not necessarily suit the MP4-31. The Spaniard was just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the first of the Sahara Force India cars, who completed the top ten.
Carlos Sainz Jnr in the first Scuderia Toro Rosso, was eleventh, ahead of Sergio Perez who finished down in twelfth. The Mexican ran wide at Turn 1 onto the grass, sustaining damage to the front suspension of the VJM09 with twenty minutes of FP3 to go. The mechanics were able to make the required repairs with five minutes of the session remaining, but valuable track time was lost for the Mexican.
Esteban Gutierrez was the first of the Haas F1 Team runners in thirteenth place, ahead of the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat. The Russian did not have an easy session, after suffering with technical issues halfway through, reporting over team radio that he was experiencing some “puling on the brakes”.
Renault Sport F1 Team driver Kevin Magnussen finished in fifteenth place, but had an early end to his session, with the French squad tweeting that the car needed more tinkering than time left in FP3. After only taking to the track with just under half of the session remaining, it was not a great morning for the Dane. He was just ahead of team-mate Jolyon Palmer in sixteenth.
Sauber F1 Team drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr were next up, just ahead of McLaren driver Jenson Button in nineteenth place, who had a torrid FP3. The Brit missed the majority of the FP2 session yesterday afternoon when he took a trip to the hospital after experiencing some eye irritiation. It was later confirmed that some carbon brake dust had found its way into the Brit’s eye, but all was confirmed OK by the medical staff for Button to take part in the action today. The 2009 world champion did not take to the track in FP3 until after the midway point of the session, and then he reported over team radio that he had a “very loose rear”, as well as complaining of poor rear grip and understeer, and completed just six laps.
The two Manor Racing Team machines of Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto finished just ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who had his FP3 session cut short. Wehrlein will have hoped to have been able to achieve a much stronger showing at his home grand prix, but it was not to be in this session. Team-mate Haryanto meanwhile, who only managed to secure the drive in Germany last minute, after his backing from Indonesian oil company Pertamina ended after Round 11 in Hungary, will be looking to have a strong weekend in a bid to try and secure his Manor seat for the rest of the season.
Grosjean brought up the rear of the grid, as the Frenchman continued to struggle with the balance of the VF16, running off road at Turns 3 and 4, before spinning and ending up on the grass by Turn 6. He then reported over team radio that there was something wrong with the gearbox, as well as questioning whether the aero was correct. He returned to the pits and it was established by the mechanics that a gearbox change would be required, bringing an early end to Grosjean’s session and a five second penalty for Sunday’s race.
Heading into qualifying, we have a strong battle on our hands with barely anything between the two Mercedes drivers, and a close battle on the cards with Ferrari and Red Bull, and perhaps even Williams will come into the mix.
2016 German Grand Prix – FP3 Results
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