Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany takes a curve during the third practice session for the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, Saturday, July 8, 2017. The Austrian Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Vettel fastest in 3rd and final practice ahead of qualifying

July 08, 2017 - 6:29 am

SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) — Ferrari got a boost as Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest time ahead of both Mercedes cars in the third and final practice session for the Austrian Grand Prix ahead of qualifying later Saturday.

Vettel finished 0.269 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who had topped both of Friday's practice sessions, and .423 ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Kimi Raikkonen had the fourth quickest time, but spent less time on track after his team worked on his Ferrari at the start of practice.

Nearing the end of the session, Hamilton went off the track with some smoke pouring out the side of his car. Toto Wolff, the team's head of motorsport, watched glum-faced from the team's motorhome as the car was wheeled back to the garage.

The team said it was a brake disk failure, which will be resolved in time for qualifying.

Hamilton and Vettel have won three races each so far, and Vettel leads Hamilton in a close title race by 14 points after eight races.

Ferrari, which is in a close scrap with Mercedes for the constructors' championship, also got another boost.

Hamilton, who won last year's race, was handed a five-place grid penalty for an unauthorized gearbox change. It means that, even if he took pole later Saturday he would start from sixth on the grid.

Teams must use the same gearbox for six straight races but Hamilton's Mercedes team made the change before reaching that requirement. The change was made Tuesday and came after the last race in Azerbaijan. Mercedes had already changed it once before that.

Hamilton has taken pole for the last two years on the Spielberg track, winning the race last year.

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