Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc went quickest in final practice for the German Grand Prix, finishing 0.168s ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and more than two tenths ahead of Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari were quickly to the fore in the early part of the session with Leclerc setting a time of 1:13.117 on soft tyres, with Vettel 0.252 adrift in second place. Leclerc then lowered the benchmark substantially by becoming the first man to dip under the 1m13s mark so far this weekend. His time of 1:12.736 remained the morning’s best until the later qualifying simulations.
Behind the Ferrari drivers, Red Bull continued to look competitive, with max Verstappen sitting third after the opening exchanges on a time of 1:13.328. His time though was set on medium tyres and as the field returned to the pit lane to contemplate qualifying simulations, Verstappen’s was the only one of the top five times to have been set on the harder compound.
At this point in proceedings Mercedes were lagging behind their rivals with Lewis Hamilton in fourth behind Verstappen and Bottas outside the top 10 in P11 as his early times were easily eclipsed by rivals on the improving track.
Leclerc was the first to bolt on a new set of softs and with a little under 20 minutes remaining he dropped the P1 time to an impressive 1.12.387 before making a marginal improvement of seven-thousandths a second.
Vetter was next across the line but he could only get to within three tenths of his Ferrari team-mate. That left the door open to Verstappen, whose first run on red rubber yielded a competitive time of 1:12.548 that split the Ferraris.
Mercedes, though, were again lacking. Bottas managed to haul himself to fourth but his time of 1:12.644 left him more than half a second off Leclerc’s impressive pace. Hamilton, who set a time seven hundredths slower than his team-mate, should have finished in P5, the Mercedes drivers were split by surprise top-five interloper Kevin Magnussen. The Haas driver’s time of 1:12.893 handed him P5 ahead of the defending champion.
Carlos Sainz took seventh place for McLaren, nine tenths adrift of Leclerc and eighth place went to the second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly. After a heavy FP2 crash the Frenchman’s car was rebuilt overnight but he struggled for pace again in FP3 and finished the session more than seven tenths of a second behind his team-mate.
The final two top 10 positions in the session were taken by Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen, 0.97, off the pace, and Haas’ Romain Grosjean whose made a late improvement to 1:13.378 to take P10 as the last man within a second of Leclerc.
2019 FIA Formula One German Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 18 1:12.380
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 12 1:12.548 0.168
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 18 1:12.644 0.264
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 24 1:12.890 0.510
5 Kevin Magnussen Haas 13 1:12.893 0.513
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 22 1:12.965 0.585
7 Carlos Sainz McLaren 18 1:13.300 0.920
8 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing 17 1:13.324 0.944
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 18 1:13.351 0.971
10 Romain Grosjean Haas 15 1:13.378 0.998
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point 15 1:13.476 1.096
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 19 1:13.496 1.116
13 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 24 1:13.554 1.174
14 Lando Norris McLaren 15 1:13.556 1.176
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 16 1:13.671 1.291
16 Lance Stroll Racing Point 15 1:13.672 1.292
17 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 21 1:13.767 1.387
18 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 20 1:13.816 1.436
19 Robert Kubica Williams 20 1:15.540 3.160
20 George Russell Williams 11 1:15.824 3.444