Valtteri Bottas was quickest at the end of the Eifel Grand Prix’s single hour of practice ahead of qualifying later today.
Running at the Nurburgring was abandoned on Friday due to heavy fog, and through temperatures remained low on Saturday morning, clear skies allowed teams and drivers to make the most of their limited track time before Q1.
With the track temperature starting at just 60 degrees F and the air chilled to 45, early running featured lockups aplenty as drivers acclimatized to the low-grip conditions.
The quickest times came in the final minutes of the session, the green circuit improving through the hour. Bottas’s time of 1m26.225s was 0.136s quicker than teammate Lewis Hamilton’s best effort. It was the Briton’s fourth attempt at a flying lap, with a mistake and double-waved yellow flags thwarting his previous attempts.
Both Mercedes drivers are running their final of three new power units for the year, though their older specifications remain in the pool for use.
Charles Leclerc was an impressive third for Ferrari, almost half a second off the pace, the bulk of his gains found in the first sector on a very late lap. His SF1000 was sporting a new round of aerodynamic upgrades, particularly around the bargeboards.
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was almost 0.7s off Bottas’s benchmark, though the Dutchman was similarly compromised by the double waved yellows at the final corner that afflicted Hamilton, the culprit being Nicholas Latifi’s spun Williams.
Verstappen was vociferously unhappy inside the RB16 throughout the session, however, complaining of a lack of grip in the chilly conditions.
Sebastian Vettel was less than 0.15s further back in fifth, with McLaren’s Lando Norris ending the session sixth and the equal most traveled driver of the hour after completing 29 laps.
Sergio Perez was seventh quickest in Racing Point’s sole entrant in the weekend’s only free practice session. His teammate, Lance Stroll, did not partake in the session after reporting feeling unwell.
The team will consider Stroll’s condition in the two-hour break between final practice and qualifying before the deciding whether the Canadian is well enough to return to the cockpit for Q1. FIA regulations stipulate a driver must take part in at least one practice session, which includes qualifying, to start the race.
Otmar Szafnauer was spotted by F1 TV cameras receiving Nico Hulkenberg at the paddock entrance during the session.
Daniel Ricciardo was eighth for Renault and 1.1s off the pace, though the Australian was still 0.1s quicker than Alex Albon in the second Red Bull Racing machine.
The Thai driver is racing with a new chassis after an uncompetitive showing at the Russian Grand Prix two weeks ago.
Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10 for AlphaTauri, with Renault’s Esteban Ocon splitting him from teammate Daniil Kvyat in 11th and 12th.
McLaren’s Sainz was 13th ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen. Haas pair Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were 15th and 16th.
George Russell was 17th for Williams after coming close to disaster with slide across the grass at Turn 14, putting him ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi and teammate Nicholas Latifi.