Austrian GP: Vettel on top ahead of Qualifying

Sebastian Vettel set a new fastest lap in the Red Bull Ring's history to top final practice for the Austrian Grand Prix, and send a message to Formula 1 title rival, Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel's 1:05.092s was 0.269s quicker than Hamilton's Mercedes, who had topped First and Second Practice could manage, giving the Ferrari the pure advantage heading into Qualifying later on Saturday.

Hamilton had a messy session, which ended with the right front brake disc on his W08 shattering on the run up to Turn 3. He will also drop five places on the grid for an unschdueled gearbox change.

Valtteri Bottas was third, with Kimi Raikkonen making it a Ferrari/Mercedes top four, but was over half a second slower than Vettel in the sister SF70-H.

The two Red Bull's then began a sequence of Noah's Ark, Max Verstappen ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, with the two Haas drivers, immediately followed by the Toro Rosso's.

It was Kevin Magnussen who was best of the rest in seventh for Haas, with Romain Grosjean, Danill Kvyat and Carlos Sainz rounding out the top 10.

Vettel on top early on

In the early parts of the final 60 minutes of practice, it was Verstappen and Bottas who set the best times, the Red Bull lapping in 1:06.015s, but the Mercedes lapping about three tenths quicker, with a 1:05.726s.

It was however, Vettel who topped the first half of the session, with a time about four tenths quicker than the best Bottas could manage at the stage.

After the final practice runs had been completed, attention then switched to the low-fuel Qualifying simulations, which would give the best indication of how the grid could form up.

It was Hamilton who clocked the first representative time of this segment of the session, a 1:05.361s taking him to the top of the time sheets, where he remained after Vettel's first attempt was two hundreths of a second slower than the W08.

Aborting his next flying lap, Vettel finally did set the fastest time, the 1:05.092s that would remain unbeaten for the rest of the session.

Late on, approaching Turn 3, Hamilton's brake failed, causing him to limp home back to the pits at a crawl, giving Mercedes a couple of hours to find, fix and replace the brakes.

Tight Midfield

As expected, the mid-field was closely matched, with just four tenths being the difference between Kvyat in ninth and Fernando Alonso in 15th.

Alonso has reverted to the old spec Honda engine, after a problem in the new spec was detected, while team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne had a good session, clocking the 13th fastest time.

Sainz suffered from an early stoppage in the session, although quick work from the mechanics and marshals enabled him to go ninth.

Jolyon Palmer had a trouble free session, finishing a confidence boosting 14th, with Renualt team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.

Williams, who have brought major upgrades to Austria were down the order, Lance Stroll ahead of Felipe Massa.

Pascal Wehrlein was slowest of all for Sauber, who have struggled for pace all weekend.

2017 Austrian GP - Third Practice Classification

Position Driver Team Time/Gap
1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:05.092s
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.269s
3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +0.423s
4. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +0.519s
5. Max Verstappen Red Bull +0.692s
6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +0.804s
7. Kevin Magnussen Haas +0.844s
8. Romain Grosjean Haas +0.923s
9. Danill Kvyat Toro Rosso +1.187s
10. Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso +1.192s
11. Esteban Ocon Force India +1.282s
12. Nico Hulkenberg Renault +1.471s
13. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren +1.486s
14. Jolyon Palmer Renault +1.503s
15. Fernando Alonso McLaren +1.507s
16. Lance Stroll Williams +1.684s
17. Felipe Massa Williams +1.773s
18. Sergio Perez Force India +1.783s
19. Marcus Ericsson Sauber +2.286s
20. Pascal Wehrlein Sauber +2.376s