Rosberg hit with five-place penalty after crash, Vettel sets pace


Nico Rosberg faces a five-place penalty after the championship leader's Austrian Grand Prix dominance came to a juddering halt when he crashed out in Saturday's final practice session which ended with Sebastian Vettel at the top of the timesheets.

Rosberg was quickest in both practice sessions in Spielberg on Friday, but was left shaking his head after his Mercedes went hurtling into the barriers at the exit of turn two before spinning back onto the track to bring out the red flags.

The Formula One championship leader hand to stand by as his car was taken back to the garage and it was revealed he will face a gearbox penalty, with a new full unit to be fitted before qualifying later in the day.

Rosberg, eyeing a third consecutive victory at the Red Bull Ring, lost the rear end due to a suspension issue and the German faces an anxious wait to see if his car can return to the track for qualifying.

It was an FP3 to forget for Mercedes, with defending champion Hamilton returning to the garage earlier than expected due to badly blistered rear tyres and finished third-fastest on a glorious morning following rain on Friday.

Vettel will also carry a five-place grid penalty when the race starts on Sunday due to an unscheduled change of his gearbox, but the Ferrari driver softened the blow with an encouraging FP3.

The four-time world champion clocked a quickest lap of one minute 0.98 seconds in his 19 laps on the track to finish a tenth of a second clear of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, with Hamilton 0.210 seconds slower than the German.

Red Bull duo Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were fourth and fifth respectively.