Lewis Hamilton clocked the fastest ever lap time around the Silverstone Circuit’s ‘Arena’ layout in Saturday’s final practice session at the British Grand Prix, narrowly edging out championship rival Sebastian Vettel before the rain started to fall late in the session.

Having trailed Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in both of Friday’s earlier practice sessions, Hamilton proved to be the field’s pace-setter on Pirelli’s Soft compound tyres before improving further when he switched to the Super Soft rubber.

His time of 1:28.063 proved untouchable – but only just – as Vettel gave chase. The Ferrari driver posted purple sector times in the first and second sectors of the lap before a small mistake at Stowe put the German second-quickest, just 0.032 seconds behind.

Bottas – who will cop a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change – was close behind and third-fastest overall, just a further 0.042 seconds behind Vettel.

The top three had some margin over the remainder of the field. Vettel’s teammate Kimi Räikkönen was fourth-quickest, albeit over half a second adrift in the sister Ferrari SF70H.

There was an even bigger gap behind the 2007 World Champion. Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg led the charge in another strong showing for the team to claim fifth-fastest. The German finished ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo – also set to be hit with a five-place grid penalty – and Haas’ Romain Grosjean.

Ricciardo’s teammate Max Verstappen was eighth-fastest, however the Dutchman timed his switch to Super Soft rubber too late in the session and emerged from the pits just as the rain started to fall with 20 minutes of the session left to run.

Williams’ Felipe Massa finished up ninth-fastest ahead of the two McLaren Hondas of Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso.

The showers allowed the field the opportunity for some exploratory runs on Intermediate tyres, although both Ricciardo and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson found themselves caught out by the damp conditions as evidenced by a spin for each of them.

Saturday’s qualifying session – set to take place under overcast skies – will begin at 13:00 local time (GMT +1).

Driver Team / Entry Time Tyre Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:28.063 Pirelli Super Soft 18
2. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:28.095 Pirelli Super Soft 14
3. Valtteri Bottas fi Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W08 1:28.137 Pirelli Super Soft 20
4. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF70H 1:28.732 Pirelli Super Soft 15
5. Nico Hülkenberg de Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:29.480 Pirelli Super Soft 14
6. Daniel Ricciardo au Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:29.612 Pirelli Super Soft 15
7. Romain Grosjean fr Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:29.819 Pirelli Super Soft 14
8. Max Verstappen nl Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB13 1:29.904 Pirelli Soft 13
9. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:29.959 Pirelli Super Soft 19
10. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:30.088 Pirelli Super Soft 19
11. Fernando Alonso es McLaren-Honda MCL32 1:30.138 Pirelli Super Soft 17
12. Esteban Ocon fr Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:30.172 Pirelli Super Soft 19
13. Kevin Magnussen it Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-17 1:30.270 Pirelli Super Soft 15
14. Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 1:30.372 Pirelli Super Soft 16
15. Sergio Pérez Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM10 1:30.416 Pirelli Super Soft 16
16. Daniil Kvyat ru Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:30.504 Pirelli Super Soft 20
17. Carlos Sainz Jr es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR12 1:30.515 Pirelli Soft 19
18. Pascal Wehrlein de Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:30.621 Pirelli Super Soft 24
19. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C36 1:30.630 Pirelli Super Soft 24
20. Lance Stroll ca Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW40 1:31.358 Pirelli Soft 18

Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.