Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel topped the times in the final practice session of the weekend ahead of the 2017 Austrian Grand Prix, two tenths of a second clear of team Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver Lewis Hamilton, as the Brit had late technical issues.
The German set a time of 1:05.092 to take the top spot on a set of the ultra-soft tyres, in what has been a close weekend between the two top teams, with a number of spanners being thrown into the works for Mercedes.
Hamilton ended the session in second, but hit problems with just five minutes of FP3 remaining. The Brit experienced a right-front brake failure as he rounded Turn 3, causing him to run wildly off track, before heading gingerly back to the pits. The Mercedes driver will also take a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change this weekend, which is not an ideal start for the Brit, and puts him on the back foot going into qualifying and the race.
Valtteri Bottas was third, a further two tenths back on his team-mate, with fellow countryman Kimi Raikkonen, who spent most of the morning in the garage as the Ferrari engineers tinkered with his car, was fourth.
Max Verstappen was the first of the Red Bull Racing drivers in fifth, with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo right behind him in sixth. Red Bull struggled with pace on Friday, and although they looked stronger this morning, they still appear to be struggling in comparison to their rivals, with the Dutchman complaining of big understeer towards the end of the session, and the RB13 not feeling right.
Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean had a strong FP3 session, finishing up in seventh and eighth place, and both certainly in range of the time set by Ricciardo, who could find he has company from the American squad this weekend.
Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr completed the top ten. It was a solid effort from the Spaniard who had his session disrupted after his engine cut out with just five minutes gone. The team was unable to get the car restarted on track remotely despite their best efforts, but did manage to get the car back to the garage for inspection, and the Spaniard was back out on circuit with twenty-five minutes of the session still remaining.
Sahara Force India F1 Team driver Esteban Ocon finished the session in eleventh place, as the Silverstone based squad do not look as happy here as they have done at recent tracks, and appear to have some work to do ahead of the race.
Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver Nico Hulkenberg was twelfth, ahead of McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who managed to finish ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso, for the second time this weekend.
Jolyon Palmer was fourteenth, ahead of Alonso who had to revert back to the phase 2 engine on ahead of this session, after the team found a problem with the MGU-H on the new “phase 3” unit overnight. The Spaniard has converted to the previous “Phase Two” engine for the remainder of the weekend, so will not take any penalties. Team-mate Vandoorne still has the new one, which is said to give around 10bhp extra power.
Williams Martini Racing driver Lance Stroll was sixteenth, but ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa by one tenth of a second. It has been a disappointing weekend for Williams so far, considering they have brought a big upgrade to Austria. But, things did not work well for them on Friday as they struggled with the balance of the car under high speed, and that situation does not appear to have improved for them this morning either.
Sergio Perez was an extremely disappointing eighteenth, as the Mexican seemed to struggle with the VJM10 today, but was still half a second up on Sauber F1 Team drivers Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein, who once again complete the bottom end of the timing sheet.
It is still extremely close between the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers at the front, with Red Bull just hanging in for best of the rest, and work to do. Hamilton’s late brake issues as well as his grid penalty, give us a few interesting elements to proceedings.
2017 Austrian Grand Prix – FP3 Results
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