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Sebastian Vettel sets track record to lead Austrian GP final practice

Vettel trails championship leader Hamilton by 14 points going into Sunday's ninth of 21 races.

Reported by: AP , New Delhi [ Updated: June 30, 2018 18:44 IST ]
Image Source : GETTY IMAGES

A file image of Sebastian Vettel.

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in final practice for the Austrian Grand Prix on Saturday as Ferrari caught up with the upgraded Mercedes cars.

The German, a four-time Formula One champion, set a track record of 1 minute, 4.070 seconds to edge Lewis Hamilton's fastest lap by 0.029, with Valtteri Bottas 0.134 behind in third.

Hamilton and Bottas went 1-2 in both of Friday's sessions as Mercedes introduced significant changes to the aerodynamics of its cars.

Vettel trails championship leader Hamilton by 14 points going into Sunday's ninth of 21 races.

Vettel's teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, had the fourth fastest time as Ferrari and Mercedes went well ahead of Red Bull, with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo finishing 0.7 and 0.8 off the pace, respectively.

Verstappen quit practice with eight minutes left as the engine of his Red Bull suddenly turned off, leaving his team two hours to get the car working again for qualifying.

Earlier, the Dutchman steered his car through the gravel after losing control and going wide in Turn Four, though it didn't damage the car.

Sauber driver Charles Leclerc, who reportedly is a candidate to replace Raikkonen at Ferrari next season, also ended practice with an engine issue.

The hour-long session started with a scare in the pit lane as Haas driver Romain Grosjean nearly clipped a mechanic who stepped out of the Toro Rosso box.

In qualifying later Saturday, Hamilton will be chasing his 50th pole position in a Mercedes, and 76th overall. Only Michael Schumacher had more pole positions with one team — 58 with Ferrari.

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