Hamilton fastest in crash-shortened third practice

Images by Steve Etherington/LAT

Hamilton fastest in crash-shortened third practice

Formula 1

Hamilton fastest in crash-shortened third practice


Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time of final practice for the British Grand Prix as a massive crash for Brendon Hartley interrupted the session and Sebastian Vettel had fitness concerns.

Hartley suffered a suspension failure at the failure at the end of the Wellington Straight 15 minutes into the session, with his left front collapsing as he hit the brakes for Brooklands at 200mph. The Toro Rosso was pitched into a spin and became briefly airborne as the tethered wheel dug into the gravel, before hitting the tire barrier head on.

While Hartley was able to climb out of the car and walk away from the incident, the session was stopped for 15 minutes to clear the car and debris, while Toro Rosso kept teammate Pierre Gasly in the garage for the remainder of FP3 while investigations took place.

The session restarted with a little over half an hour remaining and meant a condensed schedule for all the teams, with run plans having to be changed. When carrying out a low-fuel run, Hamilton posted a 1m26.722s to top the times by just 0.093s from Kimi Raikkonen as Ferrari looked a genuine threat to Mercedes ahead of qualifying.

Valtteri Bottas was third fastest but over 0.6s adrift of his Mercedes teammate, while there was a fitness worry for Vettel as he ended up fourth overall. The championship leader completed just eight laps in total and did not carry out a final qualifying simulation, with Ferrari confirming an issue with Vettel’s neck resulted in him opting to miss the final part of the session.

Vettel was 1.1s off the pace as a result but still managed to end up quicker than the two Red Bull drivers, with Max Verstappen fifth on a 1m28.012s and Daniel Ricciardo just 0.006s further back in sixth.

The surprise in terms of pace was Charles Leclerc in the Sauber, with the rookie posting the seventh-fastest time and ending up a little over 0.1s slower than the Red Bull drivers. Leclerc’s lap of 1m28.146s left him over a quarter of a second clear of the Haas pair of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean, while Marcus Ericsson was 10th in the other Sauber.

With Sauber and Haas performing well, all three Ferrari-powered teams ended the final practice session in the top 10, with the Mercedes-powered Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez next up in 11th and 12th.

Fernando Alonso was 13th for McLaren after taking a new internal combustion engine (ICE) and MGU-H ahead of Saturday’s running — his third of each component, which leaves him on the brink of grid penalties at future races.

-Chris Medland