Valtteri Bottas set the pace as the Eifel Grand Prix weekend finally got underway on Saturday – for everyone except an unwell Lance Stroll.
After Friday’s wash-out, the Formula 1 drivers had just 60 minutes to do all their set-up work for the Eifel Grand Prix, promising a busy FP3 session at a chilly Nurburgring where the track temperature was 13’C.
The McLarens were the first out followed by Lewis Hamilton, the Mercedes man practicing a start on his way out and making use of the designated box.
Carlos Sainz – out on the medium tyres – posted the first lap time, a 1:38.3, before his team-mate Lando Norris shaved off 1.5s. The McLaren 1-2 was short-lived as one by one the drivers made their mark on the timesheets.
Alex Albon and Esteban Ocon, both on the soft tyres, went quickest with the benchmark time down to a 1:30.2 after 10 minutes of running.
Max Verstappen’s first lap time, a 1:31, was deleted for exceeding the track limits at Turn 4. His next was a 1:30.6 followed by a pace-setting 1:28.6.
All the drivers, excluding Lance Stroll, had put in a lap or more with the Canadian not in the garage as he was unwell. Nico Hulkenberg, already on the team’s speed dial, was rumoured to have already received a call.
UPDATE: @lance_stroll is not feeling 100% this morning and will therefore not participate in FP3. His condition will be assessed after the session to evaluate whether he is fit to drive, at which point the team will confirm plans for Quali.#F1 #EifelGP
— BWT Racing Point F1 Team (@RacingPointF1) October 10, 2020
Given the short time period to work on set-up, there was a mix of medium and soft runs as well as low and high fuel loads. Lewis Hamilton, running the medium tyres, was down in 12th place before improving to P9 while his team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, was eighth.
Sebastian Vettel had the first notable incident of the weekend as he spun his SF1000 at the exit of Turn 14. The Ferrari driver was bottom of the timesheet having just joined the list of drivers losing their lap time for running wide at Turn 4. His next effort elevated him to P15.
— Out of Context F1 (@f1nocontext) October 10, 2020
Halfway through the session Red Bull held down the 1-2 with Verstappen 0.041s ahead of Albon. Ocon was third ahead of Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean. “It’s a beautiful track, mate,” said the Haas driver.
Ocon, with a fresh set of soft tyres on his RS20, went quickest only to lose P1 to Norris. The McLaren driver did a 1:27.6 despite a hairy moment out of the final corner. Sainz went third fastest.
George Russell practiced his skating skills as he went sliding across the damp grass after getting it wrong at the chicane. He was down in 19th place.
— Ky (@FiftyBucksss) October 10, 2020
With the grip levels improving and the times tumbling, Ricciardo went P1 then Bottas and then Verstappen. The Dutchman lowering the benchmark to a 1:27.0. Hamilton improved to second place, make that third as Bottas went quickest with a 1:26.9.
Hamilton was on course to respond but cut the chicane and had his lap time deleted while Bottas shaved tenths off his time, P1 down to a 1:26.225.
Nicholas Latifi brought out the yellow flags as he got it wrong at the final corner, spinning his Williams before sliding across the track and briefly blocking it.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 10, 2020
That put paid to Hamilton’s latest attempt at a flying lap although his next moved him up to second, 0.136s down on his team-mate’s best.
Charles Leclerc put in a late burst to go third fastest, 0.456s down on Bottas while Vettel improved to fifth, Verstappen splitting the Ferrari team-mates.
Norris, Perez, Ricciardo, Albon and Pierre Gasly completed the top ten.
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:26.225
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.136s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.456s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.671s
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.813s
6 Lando Norris McLaren 0.942s
7 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1.020s
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1.167s
9 Alex Albon Red Bull 1.224s
10 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.303s
11 Esteban Ocon Renault 1.409s
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 1.570s
13 Carlos Sainz McLaren 1.699s
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1.731s
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1.890s
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas 2.068s
17 George Russell Williams 2.118s
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 2.145s
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 2.716s
20 Lance Stroll Racing Point no time