Formula 1

Hamilton tops final practice as Mercedes continue weekend dominance

3 Mins read
Credit: Daimler/LAT Images

Lewis Hamilton topped his third consecutive practice session ahead of team mate Valtteri Bottas for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team – further cementing the six time champions as the team to beat on F1’s return at the Red Bull Ring this weekend.

As the light went green to signal the beginning of the 60 minute session, it was McLaren F1 Team‘s Lando Norris that took to the track, much like his team mate Carlos Sainz did yesterday in FP1 – McLaren wasting no time. And after the 10 minute lull at the beginning of the session once all the installation laps had been completed, in was in fact Sainz that set the first lap of the day – a 1:06.307.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas quickly went faster with a 1:05.448, albeit on the medium tyre. The newly legalised DAS system appearing to be a key factor in the Brackley team’s early pace in Spielberg this weekend. He was swiftly usurped by Lewis Hamilton, with the six-time world champion going three tenths faster on the same tyres.

Scuderia Ferrari seemed to be in trouble early on pace-wise, with Sebastian Vettel a couple of tenths slower than the Mercedes of Hamilton, even on the softer red marked tyre. The Italian marque are looking to be in a midfield battle this weekend, with the Maranello squad not bringing any updates to Austria after an extended factory shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The red flag was brought out with 35 minutes to go after Williams Racing rookie Nicholas Latifi spun on the exit of turn one and collected the barrier, giving the Canadian a premature end to his first Saturday practice session in F1. With potential gearbox and various cosmetic damage, the team from Grove will have their work cut out to get Latifi on track for the beginning of qualifying this afternoon.

So with just 25 minutes remaining, the rush was on for the drivers as the majority of the grid piled onto the track to complete some qualifying simulations. Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen managed to get within two tenths of the leading Mercedes on the medium compound tyre, further cementing the Milton Keynes squad’s aspirations for glory this weekend. Verstappen would later get within the same gap of Hamilton on the softer tyre.

Daniel Ricciardo continued to show Renault DP World F1 Team‘s early promise, setting a time close to the Racing Point, albeit with the Australian running on the faster soft tyre. His returning team mate, Esteban Ocon managed to get within two tenths of the Ferraris, slotting into third place on the same tyre, signalling the improvement from the French manufacturer giants, and also marking a strong comeback for the Frenchman.

Friday standout driver Sergio Perez continued his fine form Friday to finish the session in fourth place, just behind the two Mercedes of Hamilton and Bottas and Max Verstappen. Racing Point are appearing to have the third fastest car this weekend with their controversial car that appears to mimic many design features from last season’s Mercedes W10.

But at the close of play it was the Mercedes W11 that continued its early weekend dominance, with Lewis Hamilton topping the timesheets again ahead of Valtteri Bottas, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen a couple of tenths down in third place. The Brackley squad appearing to have the edge going into qualifying, but behind them it’s very competitive between Red Bull, Ferrari and Racing Point for podium honours.

Qualifying begins at 2pm BST and you can follow it all the action and reaction here on The Checkered Flag.

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes-AMG Motorsport1:04.130
2Valtteri BottasMercedes-AMG Motorsport+ 0.147
3Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing+ 0.283
4Sergio PérezRacing Point F1 Team+ 0.475
5Charles LeclercScuderia Ferrari+ 0.573
6Alexander AlbonRed Bull Racing+ 0.595
7Sebastian VettelScuderia Ferrari+ 0.721
8Lance StrollRacing Point F1 Team+ 0.788
9Pierre GaslyScuderia AlphaTauri+ 0.819
10Lando NorrisMcLaren F1 Team+ 0.820
11Esteban OconRenault F1 Team+ 0.907
12Daniel RicciardoRenault F1 Team+ 0.958
13Carlos Sainz Jr.McLaren F1 Team+ 1.047
14Daniil KvyatScuderia AlphaTauri+ 1.160
15Romain GrosjeanHaas F1 Team+1.233
16George RussellWilliams Racing+ 1.435
17Kevin MagnussenHaas F1 Team+ 1.518
18Antonio GiovanazziAlfa Romeo Racing+ 1.524
19Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo Racing+ 1.643
20Nicholas LatifiWilliams Racing+ 2.919

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