Austrian GP: Leclerc fastest again in FP3

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc pipped the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton to set the pace in the final Formula 1 practice session before qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Austrian GP: Leclerc fastest again in FP3

Leclerc was the only driver to lap below 1m04s at the Red Bull Ring as FP3 set up an enticing Ferrari vs Mercedes battle for pole position.

Bahrain poleman Leclerc had control of the 60-minute session throughout and enjoyed a comfortable advantage after the first runs.

His 1m04.275s left him almost four tenths clear of the lead Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who had a tiny advantage over Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Hamilton.

Bottas moved to the top of the times on his first flying lap on a second set of new soft tyres, eclipsing Leclerc’s time by half a tenth.

However, Leclerc improved twice on his second run and ended on a 1m03.987s – with his second lap, a 1m04.120s, also good enough for top spot.

Hamilton lapped 0.010s slower than Leclerc initially but ended the session 0.143s behind after failing to improve again.

He was a tenth clear of Bottas, with the second Ferrari of Vettel 0.263s slower than his teammate in fourth.

Verstappen slipped to fifth in the lead Red Bull although did not hook up his best sectors.

He was 0.459s slower than Leclerc after failing to improve in the final part of the lap on his first new-tyre run, and then aborting a quicker lap shortly after – complaining that “the changes we made are not good”.

Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Pierre Gasly had a troubled start to the session when he reported “really low power” and spent the opening phase of FP3 in the pits.

However, he emerged with enough time to completely two runs as normal, but ended up only seventh and 1.2s off the pace.

That gap allowed Lando Norris to split the Red Bulls in his McLaren, which was just within a second of Leclerc’s best – 0.999s off the pace.

His teammate Carlos Sainz Jr finished the session eighth-fastest, ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo and the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat.

Half a second covered Sainz in eighth to Lance Stroll's Racing Point in 16th.

Haas endured a difficult session, with its cars 15th (Romain Grosjean) and 18th (Kevin Magnussen). The team also needs to change the gearbox on Magnussen's car before qualifying, which will hand the Dane a five-place grid penalty.

Session results

Cla # Driver Chassis Engine Laps Time Gap
1 16 Monaco Charles Leclerc
Ferrari Ferrari 18 1'03.987
2 44 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes Mercedes 21 1'04.130 0.143
3 77 Finland Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes Mercedes 23 1'04.221 0.234
4 5 Germany Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari Ferrari 20 1'04.250 0.263
5 33 Netherlands Max Verstappen
Red Bull Honda 18 1'04.446 0.459
6 4 United Kingdom Lando Norris
McLaren Renault 19 1'04.986 0.999
7 10 France Pierre Gasly
Red Bull Honda 15 1'05.152 1.165
8 55 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr.
McLaren Renault 22 1'05.219 1.232
9 99 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi
Alfa Romeo Ferrari 17 1'05.336 1.349
10 26 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat
Toro Rosso Honda 25 1'05.391 1.404
11 23 Thailand Alex Albon
Toro Rosso Honda 29 1'05.481 1.494
12 27 Germany Nico Hulkenberg
Renault Renault 21 1'05.514 1.527
13 7 Finland Kimi Raikkonen
Alfa Romeo Ferrari 21 1'05.514 1.527
14 11 Mexico Sergio Perez
Racing Point Mercedes 18 1'05.523 1.536
15 8 France Romain Grosjean
Haas Ferrari 20 1'05.620 1.633
16 18 Canada Lance Stroll
Racing Point Mercedes 17 1'05.650 1.663
17 3 Australia Daniel Ricciardo
Renault Renault 19 1'05.878 1.891
18 20 Denmark Kevin Magnussen
Haas Ferrari 11 1'06.017 2.030
19 63 United Kingdom George Russell
Williams Mercedes 23 1'06.676 2.689
20 88 Poland Robert Kubica
Williams Mercedes 23 1'07.484 3.497
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