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Canadian GP FP3: Hamilton fired warning shot, Verstappen chases

Canadian GP FP3: Hamilton fires warning shot, Verstappen chases, Ferrari nowhere

Canadian GP FP3: Hamilton fired warning shot, Verstappen chases

Lewis Hamilton topped the final practice session for the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix and Max Verstappen chased down his former Title rival for second.

The seven-time Formula 1 Champion seemed to be reveling at the venue of his first career victory in top flight back in 2007 on his rookie season, and showed some serious pace, putting the hammer down and showing he was a contender for pole later on Saturday.

Verstappen did not seem in his element, but bounced back from the technical issue that hit his RB20 on Friday and ended the session second fastest behind Hamilton.

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George Russell confirmed Mercedes’ pace and the new upgrade with both cars having their new front wings bolted on. He was third fastest in the sister W15.

However, having said that, one must be careful when it comes to Mercedes, as they have flattered to deceive before, so let’s not hold out breaths. Qualifying is not far off, but expect Hamilton to wring the neck of the W15.

Lance Stroll was fourth fastest in the Aston Martin ahead of McLaren’s Oscar Piastri in fifth. Lando Norris was seventh.

Fernando Alonso showed some decent pace early on, but ended up eighth fastest in the end, can he spring a surprise in qualifying? Aston Martin were clearly focusing on long runs…

Speaking of McLaren, they did not seem to be on it throughout the session which also applies to Ferrari who entered this weekend as favorites given their SF-24’s nimbleness on the kerbs.

But in the end Charles Leclerc was complaining about being slow and ended FP3 tenth fastest with Carlos Sainz down in 12th.

However, we should be treated to an interesting qualifying with so many factors in play, Mercedes’ surprising form, Red Bull’s discomfort, and Ferrari’s underwhelming form. McLaren an unknown.

Buildup towards FP3

Friday in Montreal was far from ideal, the weather having an impact on the running and leaving us with an unclear picture about the pecking order this weekend.

Ferrari and McLaren looked in decent shape, while Red Bull are still an unknown, as Verstappen did not show his full potential in FP1 while in FP2 he missed most of the session after his RB20 broke down with a smoking engine.

As such the reigning F1 Champion enters FP3 and qualifying on the back foot, yet again, so that would be something to look out for on Saturday.

Hamilton, on the other hand, looked racy at some point, but that did not translate into lap time, especially in the second practice session, but there lies the problem, as we did not really the true potential of each team and driver as the final lap times in the first two practices were based on the time of the session, and the situation of the track when they were set as the track was swinging between dry and wet.

Mercedes also did not put their upgrade on the car on Friday, opting to keep it safe, so will they show their hand on Saturday? Will Verstappen bounce back from his woes? Who is better, Ferrari or McLaren?

Let’s see if FP3 brings a clearer order, as it is expected to run in dry conditions, while some are reporting rain in qualifying.

FP3 Session Highlights

Track temperatures were much higher at the start of FP3, compared to Friday, 35 degrees Celsius while the air temperature was 21 degrees, with conditions dry.

Verstappen was the first to get out on track eager to get running and make up for the lost time on Friday following the technical issue on his car. He was on Medium tyres, like everyone else.

The other drivers immediately followed the Dutchman out on track to get the most out of their remaining one hour before qualifying.

Verstappen soon reported that the steering was “super weird” for him, pointing out is has been like that for the full weekend. He also has a moment into the chicane and goes straight.

Just five minutes into the session, Stake F1 Team driver Zhou Guanyu brought out the Red Flag for the second time this weekend, as he lost control of the rear of his car and ended up in the barriers.

Zhou radioed: “I have no idea what’s happening with the car, the car is so strange man, it just locks up the rears.”

The session was restarted with 50 minutes remaining on the clock and drivers returned to the track to continue their long runs on Mediums and Hards.

Alex Albon had a moment at the chicane (Turn8/9), going straight into the grass, and immediately was complaining about the stopping power of his brakes. Valtteri Bottas soon had a moment of his own at Turn 6.

Albon was soon noted and was under investigation for failing to follow the race director’s notes while rejoining the track.

Alonso seemed to be enjoying the resurfaced Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, running strongly on Hard tyres, at the top of the time screens and even improving – that was 20 minutes into the session.

Replay showed Piastri messing up the chicane at Turn 13 and going straight on, but followed the race director’s instructions…

Sergio Perez in the Red Bull, on the other hand was complaining about low grip “all around” as he continued running on Medium tyres.

Daniel Ricciardo, like Sainz on Friday, had a close call with a ground hog, but no one was hurt.

At the Halfway mark, the Soft tyres started to make an appearance as the first qualifying simulations started, the first being Logan Sargeant who goes to the top, but soon the inevitable happens and the American starts dropping down the order as more drivers start their qualifying practice.

However, the Aston Martins bucked the trend and were doing their own program on Medium tyres with higher fuel loads. Earlier they ran Hard tyres on lower fuel loads.

Neither Red Bull driver made a Soft run like the others, and Perez was sat in his car in the garage the mechanics doing quite some work on it.

Both Haas cars and the Alpines as well did not run on Softs. Could it be since qualifying might be wet and race expected to be dry.

Verstappen is yet to be satisfied with his RB20, he reports over the radio: “The car is jumping a lot, like up and down especially into [Turn] 1, and Turns 3, 4.”

Albon, with 11 minutes remaining, banged his front right tyre real hard in the final chicane, having gone hard on the kerbs, his car jumping out of control and into the Wall of Champions at the exit. He limps back to the pits.

There was a bit of a altercation between Sainz and Pierre Gasly, the latter informed the former was on a hot lap quite late by his engineer. The French driver had to go straight at the chicane to avoid the Spaniard who was not impressed.

Russell had a moment at the chicane of Turns 8 and 9, missing his braking point and going on the grass, and later comes too close for comfort to the wall of Champions. Sainz also messes up his final chicane while Sargeant had a close call with a McLaren.

Replay showed the Verstappen had a slight touch with the Wall of Champions on his final flying lap, but kept going.

The session was concluded with practice starts.

How they finished

Hamilton posted a 1:12.549 to go top of the bunch at the end of FP3, 0.374s ahead of Verstappen in second and 0.408s faster than his teammate, Russell who was third.

Stroll was 0.477s adrift in fourth and 0.240s ahead of Piastri, the faster of the McLarens in fifth while Ricciardo was an encouraging fifth, but 0.730s off the pace.

Alonso was eighth fastest in the second Aston Martin, 0.791s slower than Hamilton and 0.002s ahead of Perez, ninth in the Red Bull.

Leclerc was 0.800s off the benchmark set by Hamilton in tenth.

Canadian GP FP3 Classification

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