British GP: Leclerc fastest in final practice as Ferrari shows its pace

by James Eagles
Charles Leclerc - Formula 1 - 2019 British GP

Charles Leclerc led a Scuderia Ferrari 1-2 in final practice for the Formula 1 British Grand Prix, ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

Leclerc’s lap time of a 1:25.905 was just 0.026 seconds quicker than Vettel in a tricky and grey Free Practice 3 at Silverstone, while Mercedes AMG Motorsport‘s Lewis Hamilton had to settle for third – but only 0.049s away from the lead Ferrari.

Dull and drizzly conditions severely affected Saturday morning programmes for all teams, leading to a slow first 20 minutes of the hour-long session.

Intermediate tyres made a rare appearance in 2019, as umbrellas were deployed around the various spectator points and qualifying runs were put on hold.

The final half of the session did see a dry track and more serious running, Williams Racing’s George Russell falling from the head of the leaderboard to the the more familiar position of nineteenth in a matter of 10 minutes.

Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton were the first of the frontrunners to flex their muscles, Mercedes looking to bring its promising Friday pace into Saturday ahead of qualifying.

Times rapidly fell from the mid 1:27s into the 26s, before Leclerc lowered the benchmark to the high 1:25s for the first time in the weekend on the soft tyres, swiftly followed by Vettel.

While Leclerc and Vettel looked comfortable at the top, Max Verstappen and Bottas struggled with on-throttle oversteer as rear tyre temperatures were pushed.

Pierre Gasly continued to impress at a very important weekend for his Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and F1 future, ahead of team-mate Verstappen for the third session in a row and 0.213s away from the ultimate pace in fourth.

But the Frenchman reported a strange noise from the turbo off-throttle in the middle of his qualifying simulations.

Bottas fell behind the Red Bulls in sixth place in a quiet session, over half-a-second shy of the Ferraris and team-mate Hamilton, and was almost caught up in an act of retaliation from Leclerc against Scuderia Toro Rosso‘s Daniil Kvyat at the exit of Luffield – narrowly avoiding contact with the Russian.

Lando Norris was the final car inside a second of the fastest time for the McLaren F1 Team, over two-tenths faster than the Renault F1 Team duo of Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo.

Alexander Albon ended the top 10 for Toro Rosso and could provide close competition for the McLarens and Renaults in qualifying.

116Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1:25.905-
25Sebastian VettelGERScuderia Ferrari1:25.931+0.026
344Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport1:25.954+0.049
410Pierre GaslyFRAAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:26.118+0.213
533Max VerstappenNEDAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:26.440+0.535
677Valtteri BottasFINMercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport1:26.456+0.551
74Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1:26.689+0.784
827Nico HülkenbergGERRenault F1 Team1:26.945+1.040
93Daniel RicciardoAUSRenault F1 Team1:26.965+1.060
1023Alexander AlbonTHARed Bull Toro Rosso Honda1:26.976+1.071
1199Antonio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing1:27.036+1.131
1255Carlos Sainz Jr.ESPMcLaren F1 Team1:27.106+1.201
1326Daniil KvyatRUSRed Bull Toro Rosso Honda1:27.108+1.203
148Romain GrosjeanFRARich Energy Haas F1 Team1:27.110+1.205
1520Kevin MagnussenDENRich Energy Haas F1 Team1:27.275+1.370
167Kimi RäikkönenFINAlfa Romeo Racing1:27.424+1.519
1718Lance StrollCANSportPesa Racing Point F1 Team1:27.544+1.639
1811Sergio PérezMEXSportPesa Racing Point F1 Team1:27.598+1.693
1963George RussellGBRROKiT Williams Racing1:29.065+3.160
2088Robert KubicaPOLROKiT Williams Racing1:29.450+3.545

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