Final practice at the Austrian Formula 1 Grand Prix proved to be a closely-fought battle between Mercedes and Ferrari. After Friday’s two practice sessions were dominated by the Silver Arrows, this time it was Ferrari’s turn to have the upper hand.

Sebastian Vettel narrowly edged his championship rival Lewis Hamilton by just 0.029 seconds at the end of the one-hour session, with the lead of the timesheets constantly chopping and changing.

The two championship challengers were closely chased by their respective teammates. Valtteri Bottas lapped just over one-tenth of a second slower to finish third-quickest overall in his Mercedes, with Kimi Räikkönen a quarter of a second adrift in the second Ferrari.

Räikkönen was the first driver in the field to clock a flying lap and worked his way into the 1m04s range before he was pipped by teammate Vettel by just 0.017 seconds.

Bottas and Hamilton shadowed the Ferraris, lapping barely one-tenth off Vettel’s initial pace, before the German went quicker with a 1:04.699. Hamilton’s next flying lap was quicker to the tune of less than three-hundredths of a second, before Bottas went even quicker with a 1:04.594.

Hamilton and Räikkönen both threw away chances to go faster on their next runs. Hamilton slid wide at the exit of Turn 3 while Räikkönen had a trip through the gravel exiting the Turn 7/8 esses. The Ferrari driver gathered himself up and went quickest on his next lap, with a 1:04.470.

The leaderboard continued to chop and change, and with twenty minutes to go in the session Vettel moved back to the top of the timesheets with a 1:04.159, and later improved to a 1:04.070.

Bottas and then Hamilton challenged, but could not go quicker than the four-time World Champion.

Red Bull Racing was a distant third-best of the ‘top three’ teams, over half a second off the pace. Max Verstappen outpaced teammate Daniel Ricciardo, but the Dutch youngster’s session proved to be rather incident-filled.

After a trip through the Turn 4 gravel trap midway through the session, he repeated the feat later on and almost immediately pulled over to the side of the circuit after reporting his car’s Renault-built engine had switched off. This drama will cause some concerns for the Milton Keynes squad ahead of this afternoon’s qualifying session.

The Haas team once again led the ‘best of the rest’ midfield honours, with Romain Grosjean narrowly outpacing teammate Kevin Magnussen as the pair finished seventh and eighth fastest respectively.

Renault’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc completed the top ten, although Leclerc’s session was disrupted in the final minutes when he stopped at the side of the circuit with an apparent Ferrari engine problem.

Qualifying takes place at 15:00 local time (GMT +2).

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:04.070 22
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:04.099 + 0.029 24
3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09 1:04.204 + 0.134 24
4. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari SF71H 1:04.470 + 0.400 22
5. Max Verstappen Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:04.791 + 0.721 18
6. Daniel Ricciardo Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14 1:04.891 + 0.821 17
7. Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:04.916 + 0.846 16
8. Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18 1:05.013 + 0.943 16
9. Carlos Sainz Jr Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:05.086 + 1.016 22
10. Charles Leclerc Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:05.219 + 1.149 25
11. Nico Hülkenberg Renault Sport F1 Team RS18 1:05.228 + 1.158 19
12. Pierre Gasly Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:05.264 + 1.194 25
13. Esteban Ocon Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:05.444 + 1.374 21
14. Fernando Alonso McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:05.448 + 1.378 19
15. Sergio Pérez Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11 1:05.502 + 1.432 24
16. Marcus Ericsson Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37 1:05.699 + 1.629 27
17. Brendon Hartley Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13 1:05.705 + 1.635 23
18. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33 1:05.837 + 1.767 16
19. Lance Stroll Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:06.029 + 1.959 23
20. Sergey Sirotkin Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41 1:06.318 + 2.248 22

Image via Scuderia Ferrari

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.