Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas went quickest in the sole practice session for Formula 1’s Eifel Grand Prix, after poor conditions forced the cancellation of all running on Friday.
Heavy fog meant the medical helicopter could not take off on Friday and any running was impossible. Teams were left with a mountain of preparation to make up in this morning’s final practice session and under sunshine and clear skies the track was busy from the moment the green light was lit at the pit exit
In the first half of the 60-minute session, run on medium compound Pirelli tires, it was Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen who set the pace on a rapidly evolving surface.
The Dutchman steadily worked his way down to a time of 1:28.684 as the session neared the half way mark, with team-mate Alex Albon in second place, just +0.041 adrift. Bottas and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton had a relatively quiet first half of the session, however, with Bottas in P8 and Hamilton down in P12 as the field returned to the pit lane to prepare for the qualifying simulations.
Renault’s Esteban Ocon, who sat in P3 ahead of the soft tires runs, made the first move on the red-banded rubber and he jumped to P1 with a lap of 1:27.634, a second quicker than Versteppen’s medium tire best. The Frenchman was then bypassed by McLaren’s Lando Norris who went a tiny three thousandths of a second quicker than his Renault rival.
Verstappen was now on track on softs, however, and moments after Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo had risen to P1, the Dutch driver reclaimed top spot with a lap of 1:27.71, 0.321 clear of his former Red Bull team-mate.
As Hamilton and Bottas failed to make the most of the first runs on softs, and slotted into P2 and P3 respectively it seems as if the Red Bull man might hold on to top spot. However, almost as soon as Hamilton had taken P2, Bottas jumped to the first place with a lap of 1:26.968.
Bottas wasn’t done though and a final run saw him improve by a sizeable seven-tenths of a second. His time of 1:26.225 remained the benchmark until the end of the session.
A spin for Williams’ Nicholas Latifi forced Hamilton and Verstappen to back out of their initial runs but Hamilton managed to slot in a second run, and he claimed P2, just a tenth behind the Finn.
The surprise of the session was a late flyer from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc that vaulted the Ferrari driver to third ahead of Verstappen. The Monegasque racer set a time of 1:26.681 to shade the Dutchman by two tenths of a second.
Sebastian Vettel finished fifth in the second Ferrari, while Lando Norris was sixth for McLaren ahead of Sergio Perez, who was the sole Racing Point driver taking part in FP3 after teammate Lance Stroll was forced out through illness. Daniel Ricciardo took eighth for Renault ahead of Albon, while Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10 for AlphaTauri.
2020 FIA Formula 1 Eifel Grand Prix
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:26.225 25 214.935
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:26.361 0.136 27 214.596
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:26.681 0.456 25 213.804
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:26.896 0.671 24 213.275
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:27.038 0.813 25 212.927
6 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1:27.167 0.942 29 212.612
7 Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 1:27.245 1.020 25 212.422
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:27.392 1.167 23 212.065
9 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1:27.449 1.224 23 211.926
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:27.528 1.303 28 211.735
11 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:27.634 1.409 27 211.479
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri/Honda 1:27.795 1.570 26 211.091
13 Carlos Sainz McLaren/Renault 1:27.924 1.699 29 210.782
14 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:27.956 1.731 25 210.705
15 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1:28.115 1.890 27 210.325
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:28.293 2.068 27 209.901
17 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:28.343 2.118 30 209.782
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:28.370 2.145 25 209.718
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:28.941 2.716 26 208.371