Valtteri Bottas heads into qualifying with the fastest practice time of the weekend on a substantially cooler day at the British Grand Prix.
The heat the suffocated the Silverstone Circuit dissipated overnight, with the air some 25 degrees F cooler on Saturday than it was on Friday, creating conditions far more amendable to the Mercedes car stretching its legs.
Bottas and teammate Lewis Hamilton were able to engage in an exclusive battle for the top of the time sheet in the friendlier weather. The pair traded fastest times on the soft tire, the red rubber enduring far better in had on Friday, with the Finn eventually prevailing over the Briton by 0.2s.
However, Hamilton likely would’ve been closer had it not been for a crossed-up moment in Becketts that forced him to abandon his final flying lap.
Max Verstappen did his best to insert Red Bull Racing into the argument, but he was outgunned. Though the Dutchman was able to set the fastest time in the slow first sector, albeit by less than a tenth, he gave away too much time at the second two splits to end up 0.3s off the benchmark.
Verstappen was the only driver to bear the Red Bull Racing standard in final practice, as teammate Alex Albon was sidelined for 45 minutes with an electronics problem.
The Thai driver’s car developed an issue associated with the energy recovery system just as it was about to leave the garage for an installation lap at the start of the session. Frantic work ensured the repaired car, complete with a new battery, could be put through its paces for a 10-lap blast on the soft tire, bringing him to 12th.
Lance Stroll was fourth but 0.7s off the pace, undoubtedly further away from Red Bull Racing than the Silverstone-based team expected. Stroll at least managed to keep temporary teammate Nico Hulkenberg at bay, albeit by less than 0.3s, the returning German down in ninth.
Carlos Sainz was fifth quickest and only 0.088s behind Stroll. He beat Charles Leclerc to the place, with the Ferrari driver a further 0.1s behind as the Italian team struggled to compromise between the “radical” downforce levels it ran yesterday that brought it improved one-lap pace at the expense of tire wear.
There was further bad news for Sebastian Vettel in the sister Ferrari, the German mired in 14th with more brake pedal issues after a similar problem robbed him of much of FP2.
Lando Norris was seventh in the second McLaren, fending off Daniel Ricciardo — the Renault driver in a new chassis after a crack was discovered in his tub overnight — by 0.043s.
Hulkenberg followed in ninth ahead of AlphaTauri teammates Pierre Gasly, a typically strong Silverstone performer, and Daniil Kvyat in 10th and 11th.
Esteban Ocon was 12th for Renault ahead of Albon and Vettel. Romain Grosjean was the quickest Haas driver in 15h ahead of Williams’s George Russell.
Antonio Giovinazzi, equipped with a new MGU-K, was 17th for Alfa Romeo ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Kimi Raikkonen and Nicholas Latifi at the bottom of the order.