Formula 1

Hamilton edges Vettel in FP3, as rain prevents true pace from being shown

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Lewis Hamilton tops FP3 at the British GP 2017. Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver Lewis Hamilton topped the times in the final practice session of the weekend ahead of the 2017 British Grand Prix, just three hundredths of a second clear of Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, as rain fell in the latter stages and caught out a number of drivers.

The Brit set a time of 1:28.063 to take the top spot on a set of the super-soft tyres before the rain began to fall, and having looked like they were some way ahead of the Italian squad on Friday, Mercedes found themselves on a par with Ferrari, who appeared to suddenly turn up the wick midway through the session.

Even at the start of FP3, Mercedes looked to have the edge, with both Hamilton and Bottas setting faster times on the soft tyre, than Vettel and Raikkonen achieved on the super-soft compound, but that all changed when Mercedes bolted the super-soft tyres on and Ferrari began to show their true pace. Unfortunately the rain then came down and ruined the chance to see just how close it would get.

Vettel ended the session in second, but extremely close to the Brit, with only a small wobble at Stowe preventing the German from posting a faster time.

Valtteri Bottas, who will receive a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change ahead of this weekend’s race, was third, and he too was within just seven hundredths of a second of his team-mate’s time and was also the fastest of the two drivers in both FP1 and FP2 on Friday.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, but over half a second down, with Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver Nico Hulkenberg in fifth. Renault have brought a whole raft of changes with them this weekend – including a new floor and revised barge boards, and they appear to be working. Having tried the parts out on both cars yesterday, they have remained solely on Hulkenberg’s car today and that will apply for the remainder of the weekend.

Daniel Ricciardo was the first of the Red Bull Racing drivers in sixth, but will also receive a five place gird penalty for a gearbox change this weekend. The Australian had a scary moment at the end of the session whilst out on the intermediate tyres in damp conditions, as he had a half spin coming out of the final corner, but managed to save it.

Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean was seventh, as the American squad once again looked strong, finishing ahead of Max Verstappen, who was one of the drivers to be caught out as the rain began to fall, spinning off track briefly.

Williams Martini Racing driver Felipe Massa was ninth, ahead of McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Stoffel Vandoorne. The Belgian’s team-mate Fernando Alonso was just five hundredths further back in eleventh, as the Woking based squad looked good during this session. Unfortunately, due to a number of engine component changes, Alonso will take a thirty place grid penalty on race day.

Sahara Force India F1 Team driver Esteban Ocon finished the session in twelfth place, ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer in fourteenth. The Brit is looking for a strong performance at his home race, but is without the updates Renault have brought this weekend. Vibrations on the engine during the FP3, were also causing Palmer some problems, but he needs a good result with rumours that Robert Kubica, could be in line for a seat with the French squad next season.

Sergio Perez was down the order in fifteenth place, ahead of Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat, who was having issues with the STR12 as he told his team over the radio that he would not push anymore as he did not trust the car.

Team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr was just behind him in seventeenth, ahead of Sauber F1 Team drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson, who for once did not finish at the very bottom of the grid, that honour went to Lance Stroll, whose timing was not the best in this session, and he did not get to post a time on the super-soft tyre before the rain began.

Although the rain made it difficult to assess who had the edge in FP3, it does all look extremely close at the top between Mercedes and Ferrari. Grid penalties for Bottas will leave him out of the mix in qualifying, so it looks likely to go down to the wire between are two championship contenders.

2017 British Grand Prix – FP3 Results

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