Sebastian Vettel set the fastest ever lap of the Red Bull Ring to edge Lewis Hamilton by just under three hundredths of a second in final practice for the Austrian Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver powered past the record set in Valtteri Bottas in 2017 qualifying with around 20 minutes left in the session. With three DRS zones to work with and ultrasoft tyres onboard Vettel posted a time of 1:04.070 to eclipse Bottas’ benchmark by 0.181 seconds.
Championship leader Hamilton got close to pipping Vettel shortly afterwards, gaining most time in the final sector, but the Briton ended the session with a best lap of 1:04.099 to finish just under three hundredths of a second behind his title rival.
Mercedes split the Ferraris, with Bottas taking third place 0.105s behind his team-mate, while Kimi Räikkönen was fourth quickest, though the second Ferrari driver was a full four tenths of a second off the pace set by Vettel.
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen took fifth place, 0.791 behind Vettel, but there was drama for the Dutchman at the end of the session.
With around eight minutes left on the clock, Verstappen was on the run down Turn 5, when his dashboard display went back and he slowed dramatically before trundling through the gravel trap and then coming to a halt. “The engine just turned off, no power steering,” he reported.
It was the Red Bull driver’s second off of the morning. Early in the session he went to deep into Turn 4, the result being a trip through the gravel to find an escape road from which he could rejoin. Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was sixth quickest at the end of the hour.
After good showing in both Friday sessions, Haas continued to monopolise best-of-the-rest status, with Romain Grosjean seventh and Kevin Magnussen eighth. They were the last drivers inside a second of Vettel, with Magnussen 0.943s behind the pacesetting German.
Carlos Sainz was ninth for Renault, while 10th place went to Charles Leclerc, who again impressed for Sauber. However, the Monegasque hit trouble late in the session however, stopping on track at Turn 2 just before the chequered flag was shown, with the young star reporting an engine issue.
2018 Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 22 1:04.070
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 24 1:04.099 0.029
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 24 1:04.204 0.134
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 22 1:04.470 0.400
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 14 1:04.791 0.721
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 18 1:04.891 0.821
7 Romain Grosjean Haas 17 1:04.916 0.846
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas 16 1:05.013 0.943
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 22 1:05.086 1.016
10 Charles Leclerc Sauber 25 1:05.219 1.149
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 19 1:05.228 1.158
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 25 1:05.264 1.194
13 Esteban Ocon Force India 21 1:05.444 1.374
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren 19 1:05.448 1.378
15 Sergio Perez Force India 24 1:05.502 1.432
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 27 1:05.699 1.629
17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 23 1:05.705 1.635
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 16 1:05.837 1.767
19 Lance Stroll Williams 23 1:06.029 1.959
20 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 22 1:06.318 2.248