FP3 – Vettel beats record as Rosberg crashes
Sebastian Vettel topped proceedings during third free practice, a display of scintillating Ferrari pace not seen yesterday.
However the major talking point of the morning would be Nico Rosberg’s heavy crash on the 21 minute mark, which resulted in red flags for a period of over 10 minutes.
Entering a flying lap on his second stint with a fastest first sector, Rosberg’s left rear tyre then appeared to violently vibrate before the rear wishbone failed.
Spinning and subsequently crashing into the barrier, it would be a session to forget for the two-time Austrian GP winner and his team.
Ferrari dominated proceedings early on, as Sebastian Vettel’s fastest time of 1:07.307 set within the first ten minutes was unbeaten for a majority of the session.
He later trumped the time later on with another lap record, a 1:07.098.
The time surpassed Rosberg’s previous best record lap time on the circuit set on Friday, as the German and his team-mate initially struggled with tyres.
On the 49 minute mark, Lewis Hamilton went off on turn 8, and three minutes later complained of severe blistering on his ultra-soft tyres.
Though Hamilton appeared to have deep blistering grooves in the centre of both rear tyres, Rosberg was later brought in with more widespread graining.
Hamilton eventually finished the session in third, a 1:07.308 set after the restart not ideal in the Briton’s qualifying preparations.
The contentious ‘sausage kerbs’ from Friday’s practice sessions again caught drivers off guard, such as Sergio Perez going wide at turn 8.
Bottas would also explore the outside of the track, spinning on the final turn during the last four minutes of FP3.
While Red Bull have been largely uncompetitive at their home race, the session saw them being Ferrari’s challengers; Ricciardo ahead of Verstappen.
Behind them, 2014’s surprise front row lockout team Williams also trailed, with Valteri Bottas ahead of Felipe Massa.
Encouragingly for Mclaren, Jenson Button slotted into 9th, 0.019s behind the Mercedes-powered Nico Hulkenberg.
The team will again be targeting a Q3 berth, as Fernando Alonso finished the session behind his team-mate.
Repairs to an otherwise dominant Rosberg car, as well as the resurgence of Ferrari are both significant talking points heading into qualifying.