FP3: Hamilton tops third straight session for Mercedes as Latifi crashes out
Mercedes laid down the gauntlet by taking another practice session 1-2 ahead of qualifying in the Austrian Grand Prix under the sun at Spielberg. It was Lewis Hamilton who set the fastest lap of 1m4.130s, and ended up 0.147s faster than his team mate Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen not far off in third.
Racing Point's Sergio Perez was under half a second down in P4, and a tenth faster than Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who rounded out the top five.
Red Bull’s Alex Albon (P6) was 0.3s slower than team mate Verstappen but a tenth faster than Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari, while Racing Point’s Lance Stroll rounded out the top eight with a time 0.788s off the pace.
FORMULA 1 ROLEX GROSSER PREIS VON ÖSTERREICH 2020
Practice 3 results
|1 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes
|2 Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes
|3 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing
|4 Sergio Perez PER Racing Point
|5 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari
AlphaTauri enjoyed a rapid session as Pierre Gasly beat Lando Norris to ninth, as the McLaren driver rounded out the top-10 in front of both Renaults, led by Esteban Ocon over Daniel Ricciardo.
The session began quietly, almost as if it was the calm before the storm that will be the first qualifying session of the season later this afternoon. Sebastian Vettel was leading the session for Ferrari after 20 minutes – before calamity struck for Williams.
Just before the half-way point of the session a puff of oil smoke from Sergio Perez’s Racing Point RP20 cleared and revealed a spinning Nicholas Latifi at Turn 1. The Williams driver ran wide over the sausage kerbs and hit the barriers, bringing out the first and only red flag of the session, also causing a 10 minute delay.
When the session re-started, short runs on the heating track – rubbered in by Saturday morning’s spectacular F3 race – came thick and fast with soft tyres being used by all runners as they fine tuned their qualifying set ups.
Mclaren's Carlos Sainz had to settle for 13th having been the first driver out in the session and a second split him and Hamilton in top spot. The Ferrari bound driver was one place ahead of 14th placed Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri) and Romain Grosjean who set a late flying lap for Haas to jump off 19th place into 15th.
George Russell was therefore knocked down to 16th after a great session in the Williams, ahead of 17th place Kevin Magnussen and the two Alfa Romeos, with Antonio Giovinazzi one place up on Kimi Raikkonen.
With a third 1-2 of the weekend, are Mercedes going to head straight for a front-row lockout in qualifying this afternoon – or will there be a surprise from Red Bull, Racing Point or Ferrari?