Leclerc remains P1, track limits come into play

Michelle Foster
Leclerc remains P1 as track limits come into play

Leclerc remains P1 as track limits come into play

Charles Leclerc set the pace in FP3 for the German GP as several drivers, including Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, lost lap times for exceeding track limits.

Formula 1 returned to the Hockenheimring on Saturday morning with everyone – but most notably Mercedes – welcoming the slight drop in temperature.

FP3 got off to a testy start for Mercedes, who are celebrating 125 years in motorsport. Lewis Hamilton, though, wasn’t willing to play ball with the retro kit, asking for his usual gloves: “Just give me normal gloves, normal gloves. They won’t fit.”

While he was having kit complaints, Valtteri Bottas was having track limit problems as he ran wide at Turn 2 having taken too much of the inside kerb.

Kerbs were a hot topic in FP3 after FIA race director Michael Masi issued track limit warnings to the drivers. “A car will be deemed to have exceeded the track limits at the exit of Turn 1 if any part of the car passes to the left of the blue and white exit kerb,” he said, adding that “a car will be deemed to have exceeded the track limits at the exit of Turn 17 if any part of the car passes to the left of the blue and white exit kerb.”

Charles Leclerc, Friday’s pace-setter, was the first man into the 1:12s, grabbing P1 with a 1:12.736 which put him half a second up on his team-mate Sebastian Vettel. The German was the first to lose a lap time for exceeding track limits while Max Verstappen went third at the halfway stage.

Daniil Kvyat was the next driver to lose his lap time with the Toro Rosso returnee also found guilty of exceeding track limits. His team-mate Alexander Albon also fell foul.

Heading out for a second run Leclerc went purple in all three sectors on his way to a 1:12.387. Vettel, with his SF90 having undergone set up changes between runs, responded with a purple first sector but lost time in the second two to stay second, 0.257s down on his team-mate.

Bottas was the next to put in a qualy style run and jumped up to third place. He was, however, half a second down on Leclerc’s best. His team-mate Hamilton wasn’t seen out on track again until 12 minutes before the end of the session as his Mercedes underwent a bit of overhaul with the team even swapping the sidepods for slimmer ones given the cooler conditions.

Hamilton’s flying lap started well, purple in the first sector, but Mercedes had no answer to Ferrari’s mid-lap pace and he went fourth, 0.4s down. Make that seventh as his lap time was deleted for exceeding track limits. Vettel also had a time deleted, again.

As the deleted track times played out it was Leclerc P1 with a 1:12.380 with Verstappen second, 0.168s down, and Vettel third, a further tenth off the pace.

Bottas was fourth for Mercedes ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Hamilton. The Brit put in a second flying to go improve to within 0.6s of Leclerc.

Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean completed the top ten.

Sainz and Raikkonen both had lap times deleted in FP3 while Grosjean ran into a lap problem…

1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:12.380 18 laps
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.168s 12 laps
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.264s 18 laps
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.510s 24 laps
5 Kevin Magnussen Haas 0.513s 13 laps
6 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.585s 22 laps
7 Carlos Sainz McLaren 0.920s 18 laps
8 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 0.944s 17 laps
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 0.971s 18 laps
10 Romain Grosjean Haas 0.998s 15 laps
11 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1.096s 15 laps
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1.116s 19 laps
13 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 1.174s 24 laps
14 Lando Norris McLaren 1.176s 15 laps
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1.291s 16 laps
16 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1.292s 15 laps
17 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1.387s 21 laps
18 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1.436s 20 laps
19 Robert Kubica Williams 3.160s 20 laps
20 George Russell Williams 3.444s 11 laps

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