Lewis Hamilton

Silverstone FP3: Hamilton tops with Vettel close as rain arrives

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the final free practice session of the British Grand Prix weekend, but the big surprise was the fact that Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel is very close as he split the Mercedes at the top of the timing screens as the rain arrived at Silverstone.

Hamilton’s best time was only 0.032 of a second up on Vettel, with Valtteri Bottas 0.074 of a second down on his teammate’s top time. Nothing separating the top three ahead of qualifying. The fast times were all set on Pirelli red band super-soft tyres.

With Bottas set for a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change, the stage is set for a top spot shoot out between title contenders Vettel and Hamilton. The Ferrari driver currently leads the championship standings by 20 points.

Kimi Raikkonen, in the other Ferrari, was fourth quickest albeit six tenths down on the pace setters, while Nico Hulkenberg surprised the establishment with an impressive fifth fastest time in the Renault.

The Red Bull’s have been best of the rest, behind the pace setting Mercedes and Ferrari drivers, but never got going in anger during the one hour morning session before the rain came down.

Daniel Ricciardo was sixth fastest with Max Verstappen eighth, the pair split by Romain Grosjean who was seventh in the Haas. Ricciardo will also serve a five grid place penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.

Felipe Massa ended ninth in the Williams, ahead of the McLaren duo of Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso who were 11th and 12th respectively.

Before practice began rain was expected, because of this Pirelli supplied the teams with an extra set of intermediates and indeed the skies opened late in the session with light rain falling late on in the session.

This scuppered the option of any driver wanting to go for a hot lap at the end of the session, but did give the field the chance to sample damp conditions.

British Grand Prix, Silverstone – Free Practice 3, Best Lap Times

144Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:28.063 18
25Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:28.095+0.032s14
377Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:28.137+0.074s20
47Kimi RäikkönenFERRARI1:28.732+0.669s15
527Nico HulkenbergRENAULT1:29.480+1.417s14
63Daniel RicciardoRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER1:29.612+1.549s15
78Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:29.819+1.756s14
833Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER1:29.904+1.841s13
919Felipe MassaWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:29.959+1.896s19
102Stoffel VandoorneMCLAREN HONDA1:30.088+2.025s19
1114Fernando AlonsoMCLAREN HONDA1:30.138+2.075s17
1231Esteban OconFORCE INDIA MERCEDES1:30.172+2.109s19
1320Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:30.270+2.207s15
1430Jolyon PalmerRENAULT1:30.302+2.239s16
1511Sergio PerezFORCE INDIA MERCEDES1:30.416+2.353s16
1626Daniil KvyatTORO ROSSO1:30.504+2.441s20
1755Carlos SainzTORO ROSSO1:30.515+2.452s19
1894Pascal WehrleinSAUBER FERRARI1:30.621+2.558s24
199Marcus EricssonSAUBER FERRARI1:30.630+2.567s24
2018Lance StrollWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:31.358+3.295s18