Following on from his fastest times in first and second practice for the German Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg topped the third and final practice session at Hockenheim. The hat-trick of fastest sessions puts Rosberg in the best position to claim pole ahead of this afternoon’s qualifying session.
A 1:15.738 was the quickest lap of the 60 minute session, with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton completing a practice hat-trick of second places, just 0.057 down on the sister W07.
Daniel Ricciardo was the only driver to get under a tenth of a second to the leader in P3, followed by the Ferrari’s of Raikkonen and Vettel, sandwiched by the other Red Bull of Verstappen in sixth.
Williams greatly improved their standing from Friday with seventh and eighth for Bottas and Massa respectively, whilst Fernando Alonso’s McLaren and Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India rounded out the top 10.
Hamilton under investigation
Under a blazing German Sun, the track temperature was high as the session got underway in quiet circumstances, with drivers being careful not to cause an unnecessary spin or crash, knowing that Qualifying gets underway at 13:00pm UK time this afternoon.
Pascal Wehrlein was quickest early on, but the faster cars soon replaced him, with Verstappen, Bottas, and Vettel all enjoying being P1 at some point during the opening 15 minutes.
When the Mercedes’ appeared, it was Rosberg was was quickest, although in his response, Hamilton’s 1:16.015 was a tenth quicker, the first time he had headed his teammate all weekend.
In between the runs, word came through that Hamilton was under investigation for a unsafe release in the pits. Replays showed his Mercedes emerging from the garage and Haas driver Romain Grosjean having to stamp on the breaks to avoid a crash. Hamilton was called before the stewards at 11:30am UK time, after the session to explain. If the World Champion is reprimanded, he will receive a 10 place grid penalty, having received reprimands in Bahrain and Russia.
To cap off a miserable weekend so far for the Frenchman, entering the back straight, Grosjean spun his car onto the grass, complaining to his engineers “guys, are you sure the aero is correct? I don’t know what’s happening with the gearbox” – to compound his misery, a new gearbox was needed, thus handing him a five-place penalty.
Rosberg strikes back
After Hamilton had improved to a 1:15.795, Rosberg edged ahead by just 0.057 to complete the sweep, on the low fuel, engine turned up, full attack laps.
Ricciardo and Jenson Button were the last two drivers to complete a lap, with the Australian impressing on his best time, whilst the Brit complained of understeer and “a very loose rear”.
Raikkonen bettered Vettel’s time, by 0.2 to leap ahead of the Quadruple World Champion, who damaged his front wing, running over a sausage kerb whilst closely following Raikkonen on the slow-down lap back to the pits.
German Grand Prix -Third Practice times
1.Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:15.738
2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes +0.057
3. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull +0.099
4. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari +0.164
5. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari +0.366
6. Max Verstappen – Red Bull +0.444
7. Valtteri Bottas – Williams +0.662
8. Felipe Massa – Williams +0.892
9. Fernando Alonso – McLaren +1.178
10. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India +1.234
11. Carlos Sainz Jr – Toro Rosso +1.290
12. Sergio Perez – Force India +1.328
13. Esteban Gutierrez – Haas +1.422
14. Danill Kvyat – Toro Rosso +1.489
15. Kevin Magnussen – Renault +1.613
16. Jolyon Palmer – Renault +1.735
17. Marcus Ericsson – Sauber +1.947
18. Felipe Nasr – Sauber +2.319
19. Jenson Button – McLaren +2.355
20. Pascal Wehrlein – Manor +2.532
21. Rio Haryanto – Manor +2.534
22. Romain Grosjean – Haas +9.422