Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc went quickest in final practice for the Austrian Grand Prix, edging Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by 0.143s with Valtteri Bottas third in the other Mercedes.
Leclerc made steady improvements during the session before bolting on a final set of soft tyres from a qualifying simulation that saw him become the only man to breach the 1m04s barrier with a P1 time of 1:03.987. Hamilton couldn’t quite match that pace and the title leader finished the final practice session in P2 with a time of 1:04.130.
That time saw him pip team-mate Valtteri Bottas by just 0.091s, and the brevity of time needed to complete the 4.318 lap of the Red Bull Ring was reflect in Sebastian Vettel taking fourth place just under two hundredths of a second further back. In all, just 0.263s separated the top four drivers.
Behind them, Max Verstappen took fifth place at Red Bull Racing’s home circuit, though the Dutch driver was almost two tenths of a second adrift of Vettel and almost half a second behind Leclerc on a circuit that accents power delivery.
Behind the top five, there a then another half a second back to sixth place Lando Norris. The McLaren rookie enjoyed a good session, beating eighth-placed team-mate Carlos Sainz by two tenths of second as he finished 0.999s behind Leclerc. Sainz, however, is due to take a grid penalty for changed PU elements.
Sandwiched between the McLarens was the second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman had completed just two laps of the circuit when he reported a los of power and he then spent almost a sizeable chunk of the session in the Red Bull garage as the team investigated the issue.
When he eventually returned to the action Gasly worked his way to a time of 1:05.152, 1.165 behind P1 man Leclerc. Behind Sainz, Antonio Giovinazzi took P9 for Alfa Romeo ahead of Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso.
2019 FIA Formula One Austrian Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 18 1:03.987
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 21 1:04.130 0.143
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 23 1:04.221 0.234
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 20 1:04.250 0.263
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 18 1:04.446 0.459
6 Lando Norris McLaren 19 1:04.986 0.999
7 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing 15 1:05.152 1.165
8 Carlos Sainz McLaren 22 1:05.219 1.232
9 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 17 1:05.336 1.349
10 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso 25 1:05.391 1.404
11 Alex Albon Scuderia Toro Rosso 29 1:05.481 1.494
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 21 1:05.514 1.527
13 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 21 1:05.514 1.527
14 Sergio Perez Racing Point 18 1:05.523 1.536
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 20 1:05.620 1.633
16 Lance Stroll Racing Point 17 1:05.650 1.663
17 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 19 1:05.878 1.891
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas 11 1:06.017 2.030
19 George Russell Williams 23 1:06.676 2.689
20 Robert Kubica Williams 23 1:07.484 3.497