FP3: Bottas tops the final session as Mercedes dominates at the Nurburgring

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After the soggy and foggy Friday, Mercedes dominated in the only free practice session for the Eifel Grand Prix with Valtteri Bottas posting the fastest lap with a 1m26.225 ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc presented the biggest surprise, ending up third fastest in the busy session.

All drivers were keen to head out on to the track after they were forced to spend the entire Friday in the garages due to the foggy and soggy weather. Formula 1 last visited the legendary Nurburgring in 2013, making the sole practice session even more vital.

The majority of the drivers used the C3 medium compound for the first run with only Kevin Magnussen using the hard and Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon and Daniil Kvyat the soft compound. It was Max Verstappen who set the early pace despite complaining about the grip level. The Dutchman was not happy with the balance, claiming that the rears started to drop off quite early while the front tyres did not provide the necessary grip level.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel had a rough start to his day as he needed to dive into the pits following his installation lap. The German who won the last FIA Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2013 with Red Bull Renault needed to wait ten minutes before joining the track action. During his first stint, he had a spin at the NGK chicane, but he was able to carry on.



As only seven of the current twenty drivers raced on the Nurburgring with an F1 car, all drivers maximized the track time available, racking up more mileage than usual. While drivers were diligently completing laps, Racing Point announced that Lance Stroll would miss the practice session. The Canadian felt unwell, but his team did not provide with further details concerning his conditions.

Highlighting the cool conditions, McLaren's Lando Norris asked his team to give him hand warmers before his second stint. Mercedes drivers were busy with their DAS system, trying to get the best out of the controversial system in these unusual circumstances. Following his frist stint, Hamilton said on the radio that "we need to talk about DAS', indicating that the team still needed to fine-tune the way of using the dual-axis system.

Romain Grosjean was the first driver to use a second fresh set of soft tyres. The Frenchman improved his time to 1m29.288, jumping to the sixth place. After his second run, he praised the track, claiming that "It is a beautiful track, mate". It was not surprising to hear the ten-time F1 podium finisher praise the circuit as he finished third on the last occasion it played host to a Formula 1 race.

Ocon raised the bar when he posted a time of 1'27.634, but his teammate Daniel Ricciardo managed to go even quicker. McLaren's Norris found another chunk of time to set the quickest time despite going wide at the final corner. When the Mercedes duo went out for their second stint, they quickly flew to the top with Bottas having the upper hand over Hamilton.. However, Verstappen was able to split them.

Although drivers usually use two sets of drivers in the final practice session, yesterday's bad weather motivated teams to use three sets of new tyres with their drivers. On his last set of fresh soft tyres, Bottas posted a time of 1m26.225 to claim the fastest lap ahead of his teammate Hamilton.

With only six minutes to go, Williams racer Nicholas Latifi has a spin at the last turn, brining out the yellow flags and disrupting the hot laps for several drivers. Ferrari drivers Vettel and Leclerc were the last ones to roll out on the third fresh set of Pirelli boots. Both drivers maximized the improved track conditions and their updated SF1000, ending up fifth and third fastest respectively.

Results

OSNo.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:26.22525
244Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:26.361+0.136s27
316Charles LeclercFERRARI1:26.681+0.456s25
433Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA1:26.896+0.671s24
55Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:27.038+0.813s25
64Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT1:27.167+0.942s29
711Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:27.245+1.020s25
83Daniel RicciardoRENAULT1:27.392+1.167s23
923Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA1:27.449+1.224s23
1010Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI HONDA1:27.528+1.303s28
1131Esteban OconRENAULT1:27.634+1.409s27
1226Daniil KvyatALPHATAURI HONDA1:27.795+1.570s26
1355Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT1:27.924+1.699s29
147Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:27.956+1.731s25
158Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:28.115+1.890s27
1620Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:28.293+2.068s27
1763George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:28.343+2.118s30
1899Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:28.370+2.145s25