Charles Leclerc posted the fastest time in a wet FP3 for the 2023 British Grand Prix, while Max Verstappen who didn’t set a fast lap before the rain was eighth.
Alex Albon continued his decent form this weekend and was second fastest behind Leclerc with Fernando Alonso third fastest.
Leclerc was out on track very quickly as he was eager to make up some time after missing FP2 with an electrical problem. He set his time on the Soft tyres as did Albon.
Verstappen on the other hand started FP3 on Medium tyres, and did not set any time on the Softs before the rain came, meaning his eighth place is not quite representative, despite being strong for Mediums. His wet pace on Intermediates later in the session was scary stuff, as he was 1.5s faster than anyone else.
That actually applies to the whole pecking order at the end of the final practice session, with several driver missing out on qualifying runs on the Soft tyres.
That means Qualifying later on today will be quite interesting as teams will be venturing into the unknown as there will be many variable with many teams not finalizing their quali work, not to mention the rain that is forecasted for the whole of Saturday.
Buildup towards FP3
The only surprise we saw on Friday was Albon and Williams featuring in the top three for the first two practice sessions, while Red Bull and Verstappen were flying up front in the lead. Can Williams maintain their momentum?
Ferrari seems to be the team trying to take the fight to the Bulls at Silverstone while Mercedes are trying to sort out their one-lap pace, as Mick Schumacher had a long night shift in the simulator, with Aston Martin seemingly running under the radar up to now.
Leclerc missed FP2 after an electrical issue with his SF-23, so can the Monegasque make up some ground in FP3?
Pirelli brought their new more durable tyre compounds this weekend anticipating more loads on the tyres, but Nyck de Vries has a blowout at the end of FP2, which might be a cause of concern for the Italian tyre manufacturer.
While running on Friday was dry but the rain hit Silverstone on Saturday as forecasted and FP3 started on a drying track while there was a 90% chance that the rain would return during the one-hour session.
While the consensus is the Verstappen will be the favorite, Jenson Button predicts it won’t be that easy, speaking to Sky Sports F1.
“It’s always so mixed the weather here, and the wind is changing direction every single corner for these guys,” he said. “It’s tough out there, which is great, and I think that’s going to make for a really exciting qualifying. But first, FP3, the guys have got to get used to these lower temperatures.
“Verstappen has been on it all weekend. The car is working underneath him,” he added. “It was really close in the second Practice session and I’m expecting that to continue today.
“It’s not going to be a walk in the park for Max and Red Bull. I think we will have a really mixed grid in practice and there will be a lot of pressure on them going into Qualifying,” Button concluded.
Silverstone FP1 session highlights
With the track still dry, the drivers set out to put in some laps in the dry before the rain returns, Leclerc being the most eager naturally to make up for his missed FP2.
Right at the start, Norris was asked to stop his McLaren at the exit of the pitlane, with CEO Zak Brown saying some kit was still connected to the exhaust. The mechanics removed it and Norris was on his way.
However that meant meant the team are under investigation since the crew touched the car past the white line at the end of the pitlane – a breach of rules.
The star of Friday, Albon had a rocky start to FP3, as his running was delayed with an electrical problem hitting his Williams FW45. The problem was soon fixed though.
Ocon soon reported his Alpine was bottoming quite a lot; he said over the radio :”Smashing the ground into Turn 9 quite a bit, with the ride.”
With 20 minutes into the session, Leclerc was leading the time tables but his time was posted with Soft tyres, as Verstappen on the mediums was fourth fastest, Hamilton was second on Softs as well.
McLaren’s Piastri reported seeing lighting at Turn 15, while Red Bull soon warned Perez of light rain at the same place.
Sargeant reported an issue with his car, he said: “Something just blew off, and I have crazy hot air hitting my arm…I’m fine, it’s so odd.
“Man it’s so hot,” he added.
At the 25 minute mark of the session, race control declared the circuit a “Wet Track”, and after that announced that Norris’ incident at the start of the session will be investigated after the session.
Up to that moment, Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu had done only two laps with time registered, and was out of his car. The team confirmed an MGU-H problem for the Chinese driver.
Despite the intensity of the rain increasing, Leclerc remained on track with dry Softs, asking his team to stay out promising he won’t take any risks. The team though soon instructed him to pit.
Track action took a break midway through the session as rain continued to fall and teams waited for Intermediate conditions with Norris the first to venture out on the Green-banded tyres.
Norris soon reports that the track was not so bad, with Turn 7 the most affected by the rain, as he went throughout his out lap.
Leclerc was soon out on Intermediate tyres, as well as Russell who reported that some parts are still dry revealing it was “not slicks and its not wets” conditions.
Norris soon returned on Soft tyres and while the track was dry at some places, the McLaren driver went off at a soaked Turn 15.
With the rain continuing till the end of the session, several drivers set out on track with Intermediate tyres and starting to put in some laps, getting more acquaintance with the wet conditions, a good idea given Qualifying may be wet.
Verstappen sent out an ominous message to his rivals as he was setting the fastest lap times on the Intermediates in the wet conditions, almost 1.5s faster than his closest rivals.
How they finished
Leclerc’s best time in the dry was a 1:27.419, 0.173s faster than Albon in second, and 0.365s better than Alonso in third.
Pierre Gasly was fourth fastest with a 1:27.893 while Lewis Hamilton was fifth, 0.055s behind the Frenchman with Carlos Sainz sixth 0.016s behind the Briton.
Logan Sargeant posted a 1:28.151 to seventh fastest, 0.115s faster than Verstappen in eighth, keeping in mind the latter’s time was on Medium tyres.
George Russell was ninth and Yuki Tsunoda was tenth.