Valtteri Bottas fronted a busy final practice session for Formula 1’s Eifel Grand Prix at the Nürburgring while Nico Hulkenberg has been placed on standby at Racing Point.
Friday’s running was completely abandoned due to persistent wet and misty conditions that meant the medical helicopter was unable to fly.
The FIA implemented an altered procedure for Saturday to ensure the helicopter can take off a few kilometres away from the track but ultimately conditions remained bright, clear and cold.
With air temperature at only 8c, and the track registering just 15c, it meant it was more reminiscent of winter testing than a grand prix.
But despite the atypical weather conditions there were few mistakes in the one-hour session as drivers got up to speed at a venue last used by Formula 1 in 2013.
Bottas set a new track record of 1:26.225 to finish just 0.136s faster than Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton as the reigning champions finished 1-2.
Hamilton was on course to beat Bottas’ benchmark late on but a spinning Nicholas Latifi brought out the yellow flags at the final corner and the Briton had to abort his lap.
Stroll absent, Hulkenberg on standby
Only 19 drivers participated in the session with Stroll’s Racing Point RP20 remaining in the garage.
Racing Point confirmed that Stroll is “not feeling 100 per cent this morning” and opted out of taking part in the one-hour session.
Stroll’s condition will be assessed during the lunch break to determine whether he is fit to driver, at which point the team will confirm its plans for qualifying.
Under Formula 1 regulations a driver is permitted to participate in qualifying without prior track experience that weekend as the session is classed as a practice session.
Nico Hulkenberg, who replaced Sergio Perez at Racing Point at Silverstone when the Mexican contracted Covid-19, has arrived at the Nurburgring and is on standby as a replacement.
Hulkenberg will need to receive a negative rapid test result for Covid-19 before getting clearance to enter the paddock.
If he fails to do so then it is understood that Mercedes reserve Stoffel Vandoorne is a back-up option for Racing Point.
Ferrari springs a surprise
Sebastian Vettel, competing on home soil, spun through the chicane early on in the session but matters soon improved for Ferrari.
In a year in which the team holds only sixth in the standings, amid problems with its SF1000, it put its struggles to one side in final practice.
Charles Leclerc finished best of the rest in third position, within half a second of Bottas, while four-time World Champion Vettel – victor upon Formula 1’s last trip to the venue in 2013 – was fifth.
They were split by Red Bull’s lead driver Max Verstappen, who fronted proceedings on Mediums early on, before being shuffled down to fourth when everyone switched to Soft rubber.
Lando Norris was sixth for McLaren, ahead of sole Racing Point participant Perez, with Daniel Ricciardo, Alexander Albon and Pierre Gasly rounding out the top 10.
Aside from Vettel and Latifi the only other driver to encounter a major moment was George Russell, who spun across the damp grassy run-off after losing control exiting the chicane.
Qualifying for the Eifel Grand Prix is scheduled for 15:00 local time.
|4||M. Verstappen||Red Bull||1:26.896||+0.671||24|
|7||S. Perez||Racing Point||1:27.245||+1.020||25|
|9||A. Albon||Red Bull||1:27.449||+1.224||23|
|14||K. Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1:27.956||+1.731||25|
|18||A. Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:28.370||+2.145||25|