Vettel fastest again in rain-hit final Austrian GP practice

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Sebastian Vettel continued his good form during practice for the Austrian Grand Prix by topping the final free practice session on Saturday morning.

Vettel posted a fastest lap of 1:09.994 to finish 0.017 seconds clear of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton as rain prevented any of the drivers from improving their times in the final 20 minutes of the session.

WATCH REPLAY: Austrian GP FP3

On the soft tire runs in the first half of the session, Ferrari once again managed to compete closely with Mercedes as Kimi Raikkonen slotted into third place behind Vettel and Hamilton.

However, a red flag period caused by another stoppage for Fernando Alonso meant that no-one was able to complete a qualifying simulation as originally planned.

When the session went to green again, a number of drivers had already parked at the end of the pit lane on super-softs, only to then have to tentatively crawl back to the pit lane around due to the sharp rain shower that had hit the circuit.

With the forecast for qualifying suggesting that rain could grace the Red Bull Ring once again, Force India opted to send drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg out on track to gauge the conditions, with the latter saying that it was “very slippery”.

Perez’s dry pace had been impressive enough to secure him fourth place in the final timesheets ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, whilst Williams finished sixth and seventh with Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.

Toro Rosso youngster Max Verstappen managed to finish the session in P8 at the checkered flag ahead of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean in the Lotuses, rounding out the top ten.

A number of drivers follow Force India’s lead late on, venturing out on track for a few laps, but many still struggled for grip and ended up going off the track. Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen were fortunate to continue after nearly colliding in the spray, but the few laps completed will still have provided all of the teams with some important information.

Qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET on Saturday.