Vettel quickest as Rosberg crashes out in Austria FP3

© AP

Sebastian Vettel took Ferrari to the top of the timesheets in the final practice session for the Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday morning, heading up a one-two finish for the Italian marque.

In a session that saw both Mercedes drivers struggle with tire wear and Nico Rosberg crash out after a suspension failure, Ferrari seized the initiative as it moved into the fight at the front.

Vettel posted a fastest lap time of 1:07.098 to finish one-tenth of a second clear of teammate Kimi Raikkonen, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton only finishing third.

Hamilton was forced to abandon an early run due to blistering on his rear tires, and although he bounced back late on, the Briton could only lap two-tenths off Vettel’s time.

However, there was worse news on the other side of the garage. Starting a flying lap on the ultra-soft tire with 20 minutes remaining in the session, Rosberg ran wide at the exit of Turn 2 after suffering a rear-left suspension failure, causing his car to punt into the wall.

Officials immediately red flagged the session, and while Rosberg was unharmed, the same could not be said of his car, leaving Mercedes with a big repair job ahead of qualifying.

Daniel Ricciardo led Red Bull’s charge in fourth place ahead of teammate Max Verstappen, while the Williams pair of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa followed in sixth and seventh respectively.

Nico Hulkenberg finished the session eighth for Force India, edging out the McLaren pair of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso in P9 and P10.

Qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix is live on CNBC and the NBC Sports app from 8am ET on Sunday.

NTT re-signs as IndyCar title sponsor in multiyear deal starting with the 2024 season

James Black/Penske Entertainment

The IndyCar Series has re-signed NTT as its title sponsor in a multiyear agreement starting in 2024.

NTT, a global information technology and communications company based in Japan, became the series’ title sponsor before the 2019 season after starting as a sponsor of the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

NTT Data (a subsidiary of parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.) will remain the official technology partner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard weekend.

With the extension, an IndyCar spokesman said NTT would become the second-longest title sponsor in series history. The longest title sponsor was PPG from 1980-97 (under the CART sanction of the Champ Car Series).

NTT replaced Verizon, which was IndyCar’s title sponsor from 2014-18 after IZOD from 2010-13.

“NTT is an excellent partner across our enterprise with strong expertise and a deep commitment to our sport,” Penske Corp. chairman and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said in a release. “From Smart Venue technology at the Racing Capital of the World to the reimagined Series mobile application, NTT is transforming the fan experience in new and innovative ways. We look forward to a bright future together.”

NTT has used artificial intelligence-enabled optical detection technology at IMS to provide information to the track’s operations and security teams, helping improve fan traffic flow and safety, the track said.

“IndyCar is a great partner for NTT Data because of our shared commitment to driving innovation, increasing sustainability and delivering amazing experiences,” NTT Data CEO Kaz Nishihata said in a release. “We also appreciate how IndyCar is so diverse, with drivers from 15 different countries, and races that range from short ovals and superspeedways to road and street courses. It’s both an incredible sport and a wonderful example for our world.”

NTT also has been instrumental in helping redesign the IndyCar app and providing more race and driver data for use in NBC Sports’ broadcasts by utilizing 140 data points from every car in the field.

“NTT is fully invested in the development and growth of our sport and has already established a terrific track record in our industry with problem-solving capabilities and access to top talent and tools,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said.

Said NTT Data Services CEO Bob Pryor: “We’re thrilled to continue our collaborations that enhance and expand the fan experience for motorsports and serve as proof points for data analytics, AI, and other innovative digital technologies. For more than a century, this racing series has pioneered innovations making driving safer for everyone, and by continuing this relationship, we will accelerate the pace of innovations and new technologies, particularly related to sustainability that ultimately can benefit organizations, communities and individuals around the world.”

Starting as a Japanese telephone company, NTT grew into a $100 billion-plus tech services giant with U.S. operations based in Plano, Texas.