The surprisingly tight British Grand Prix battle between Mercedes and Ferrari continued into Saturday’s final practice session, with crowd favourite Lewis Hamilton narrowly emerging on top of the time sheets at the end of the one-hour session.
The Englishman, who is attempting to win his home event for the fifth time on the trot, just edged out Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen on the stopwatch, with championship leader Sebastian Vettel limited to just eight laps in the session after complaining of neck pains.
The session will, however, be most remembered for a frightening crash for Brendon Hartley, who slammed head-on into the barriers at the end of the Wellington Straight after his Toro Rosso suffered a high-speed front suspension failure.
Just 15 minutes into the session, the New Zealander was preparing to attempt his first timed lap when his front left suspension sheared off the chassis while he was traveling at over 200mph. Incredibly, he was able to walk away from his battered car with little more than a shaking, but it appears unlikely his car can be repaired in time for this afternoon’s qualifying session.
It was a bad session for the junior Red Bull team, with Pierre Gasly finishing as the slowest of the drivers to set a time. Understandably given his teammate’s accident, the team opted to keep the Frenchman in the garage in order to understand the reason for Hartley’s spectacular failure.
Up at the front of the pack, Hamilton edged Räikkönen by just 0.093 seconds on the stopwatch. The two drivers became the first this weekend to lap in the 1m26s range, suggesting that this afternoon’s qualifying session will see the 5.891-kilometre Silverstone circuit’s lap record smashed.
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas finished third-quickest, albeit a rather distant six-tenths of a second off the ultimate pace, while Vettel’s limited running still saw him fourth-quickest ahead of Red Bull Racing duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
With engine power likely to prove a major factor this weekend, all of the field’s six Ferrari-powered cars finished the session inside the top ten. The two Saubers of Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson sandwiched the two Haas Ferraris of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, with the latter getting important track time after missing out on any FP2 running yesterday thanks to his shunt in opening practice.
Qualifying gets underway at 14:00 local time (GMT +1).
|FORMULA 1 2018 ROLEX BRITISH GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 3 TIMES|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09||1:26.722||15|
|2.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF71H||1:26.815||+ 0.093||14|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09||1:27.364||+ 0.642||17|
|4.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF71H||1:27.851||+ 1.129||8|
|5.||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14||1:28.012||+ 1.290||22|
|6.||Daniel Ricciardo||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer RB14||1:28.018||+ 1.296||15|
|7.||Charles Leclerc||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37||1:28.146||+ 1.424||18|
|8.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18||1:28.418||+ 1.696||16|
|9.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18||1:28.554||+ 1.832||18|
|10.||Marcus Ericsson||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37||1:28.814||+ 2.092||17|
|11.||Esteban Ocon||Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11||1:28.917||+ 2.195||14|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11||1:29.066||+ 2.344||15|
|13.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33||1:29.070||+ 2.348||17|
|14.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS18||1:29.094||+ 2.372||12|
|15.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Renault Sport F1 Team RS18||1:29.133||+ 2.411||15|
|16.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41||1:29.829||+ 3.107||13|
|17.||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41||1:29.984||+ 3.262||17|
|18.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33||1:30.004||+ 3.282||17|
|19.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13||1:30.050||+ 3.328||4|
|20.||Brendon Hartley||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13||no time||3|
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team