Formula 1

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

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Charles Leclerc - Formula 1 - 2019 British GP
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

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 H├╝lkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo.

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

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DTM, Formula 1 writer and deputy editor for The Checkered Flag. Autosport Academy member and freelance voice over artist.
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