Lewis Hamilton was quickest in final practice for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone in a strange session of tire preservation ahead of qualifying.
Hamilton beat teammate Valtteri Bottas to the top spot by 0.163s, completing a one-two clean sweep of practice for Mercedes.
Drivers completed limited running on Saturday morning and most stuck with the soft tire. High usage of the stickiest compound is unusual in practice, but the compound in question — the C4, the second softest in the range this season — is too delicate to complete even a single lap at maximum attack, particularly with track temperatures at 105 degrees F. Teams have therefore been consuming their allocation of red-marked rubber ahead of qualifying to preserve the more durable compounds for the grand prix.
Both time sheet-topping Mercedes drivers kept their medium and hard compounds in blankets, instead running exclusively on the softs. It means both have saved two sets of medium and hard tires apiece, with the medium likely to be used in Q2 to avoid using the soft compound in the race.
All but three teams chose the same tire strategy route, with only Ferrari, McLaren and Haas dipping into their allocations of mediums. Both Ferrari drivers also undertook a single lap each on the hard, scrubbing them in preparation for the race.
Lando Norris was third fastest, putting his McLaren 0.581s adrift of the leading Mercedes. His fastest time was set on the yellow-walled medium, demonstrating how close it is to the soft in performance by virtue of its durability.
It was enough to keep him ahead of Racing Point teammates Nico Hulkenberg and Lance Stroll, the substitute German leading the full-time Canadian by 0.007s ahead of qualifying.
Charles Leclerc was sixth and 0.7s off the pace. The Ferrari driver was equipped with a brand-new internal combustion engine, turbocharger and MGU-H as a precaution after teammate Sebastian Vettel’s power unit failed in a stream of fluid at the end of FP2 on Friday afternoon.
Vettel’s car lasted the distance in FP3 with its new engine bits, but the driver fared little better. The German was 13th and almost 1.2s slower than the benchmark time, giving little sign his struggles from last weekend are set to end in this second race at Silverstone.
Red Bull Racing duo Max Verstappen and Alex Albon were closely matched in seventh and eighth, the Dutchman beating his sophomore teammate by 0.019s.
Esteban Ocon finished the morning ninth, 0.022s behind the Red Bull Racing pair, while Carlos Sainz completed the top 10 for McLaren.
AlphaTauri teammates Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat were 11th and 12th ahead of Vettel, with Daniel Ricciardo’s 14th-quickest time failing to demonstrate Renault’s Friday promise.
Romain Grosjean was 15th quickest ahead of Williams teammates Nicholas Latifi and George Russell. Antonio Giovinazzi led Kimi Raikkonen for Alfa Romeo, with Kevin Magnussen rounding out the order.