Eifel, FP3: Bottas quickest as action finally commences at the Nürburgring
Hamilton 2nd, Leclerc 3rd
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas went quickest in the sole practice session for Formula 1’s Eifel Grand Prix, after poor conditions forced the cancellation of all running on Friday.
Heavy fog meant the medical helicopter could not take off on Friday and any running was impossible. Teams were left with a mountain of preparation to make up in this morning’s final practice session and under sunshine and clear skies the track was busy from the moment the green light was lit at the pit exit
In the first half of the 60-minute session, run on medium compound Pirelli tyres, it was Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen who set the pace on a rapidly evolving surface.
The Dutchman steadily worked his way down to a time of 1:28.684 as the session neared the half way mark, with team-mate Alex Albon in second place, just +0.041 adrift. Bottas and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton had a relatively quiet first half of the session, however, with Bottas in P8 and Hamilton down in P12 as the field returned to the pit lane to prepare for the qualifying simulations.
Renault’s Esteban Ocon, who sat in P3 ahead of the soft tyres runs, made the first move on the red-banded rubber and he jumped to P1 with a lap of 1:27.634, a second quicker than Versteppen’s medium tyre best. The Frenchman was then bypassed by McLaren’s Lando Norris who went a tiny three thousandths of a second quicker than his Renault rival.
Verstappen was now on track on softs, however, and moments after Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo had risen to P1, the Dutch driver reclaimed top spot with a lap of 1:27.71, 0.321 clear of his former Red Bull team-mate.
As Hamilton and Bottas failed to make the most of the first runs on softs, and slotted into P2 and P3 respectively it seems as if the Red Bull man might hold on to top spot. However, almost as soon as Hamilton had taken P2, Bottas jumped to the first place with a lap of 1:26.968.
Bottas wasn’t done though and a final run saw him improve by a sizeable seven-tenths of a second. His time of 1:26.225 remained the benchmark until the end of the session.
A spin for Williams’ Nicholas Latifi forced Hamilton and Verstappen to back out of their initial runs but Hamilton managed to slot in a second run, and he claimed P2, just a tenth behind the Finn.
The surprise of the session was a late flyer from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc that vaulted the Ferrari driver to third ahead of Verstappen. The Monegasque racer set a time of 1:26.681 to shade the Dutchman by two tenths of a second.
Sebastian Vettel finished fifth in the second Ferrari, while Lando Norris was sixth for McLaren ahead of Sergio Perez, who was the sole Racing Point driver taking part in FP3 after teammate Lance Stroll was forced out through illness. Daniel Ricciardo took eighth for Renault ahead of Albon, while Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10 for AlphaTauri.
|01||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes W11||1:26.225||25|
|02||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes W11||1:26.361||27|
|03||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari SF1000||1:26.681||25|
|04||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Honda RB16||1:26.896||24|
|05||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari SF1000||1:27.038||25|
|06||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault MCL35||1:27.167||29|
|07||Sergio Perez||Racing Point Mercedes RP20||1:27.245||25|
|08||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault RS20||1:27.392||23|
|09||Alex Albon||Red Bull Honda RB16||1:27.449||23|
|10||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri Honda AT01||1:27.528||28|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Renault RS20||1:27.634||27|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||AlphaTauri Honda AT01||1:27.795||26|
|13||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault MCL35||1:27.924||29|
|14||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39||1:27.956||25|
|15||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari VF-20||1:28.115||27|
|16||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari VF-20||1:28.293||27|
|17||George Russell||Williams Mercedes FW43||1:28.343||30|
|18||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Ferrari C39||1:28.370||25|
|19||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes FW43||1:28.941||26|
|20||Lance Stroll||Racing Point Mercedes RP20||-:—.---||0|