Monday, June 24, 2024

Leclerc Tops Dry-to-Wet Final Practice Session Ahead of Albon

After encountering difficulties in the second practice session, Charles Leclerc made a strong comeback during Saturday’s third session at the Silverstone Circuit, setting the fastest time, leading Alex Albon and Fernando Alonso with rain disrupting the session.

The drivers were met with wet conditions as they returned to the track for the Free Practice Three session, with temperatures dropping overnight and dark clouds looming overhead after a warm and dry opening day at the historic venue.

Although the preceding F3 race took place in wet conditions, a break in the weather allowed the track to dry up sufficiently for slick tyres when the F1 cars hit the track, but rain loomed over with a reported 90% of precipitation in the session.

Around twenty minutes into the session, the rain returned, halting the teams’ qualifying runs and effectively freezing the timesheets. Oracle Red Bull Racing were one of the only teams that had not switched to the soft compound tyres.

As a result, Max Verstappen, the reigning double world champion who had topped both sessions on Friday, finished in eighth position, with his teammate Sergio Pérez was all the way down in fourteenth. Nonetheless, they still gathered valuable data in the slippery intermediate conditions that followed, with Verstappen setting the pace on the intermediate tyres, although it didn’t show on the timesheets.

Sergio Perez navigates around Silverstone on intermediates tyres for Oracle Red Bull Racing.
Credit; Dan Mullan/Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

With the absence of the Red Bull drivers at the top, it was Leclerc who set the session’s fastest time, clocking 1:27.419s on the soft compound. This performance made up for some of the lost mileage after being sidelined by an electrical issue in the second practice session. Leclerc had a moment just before the end of the session at Club Corner but managed to recover from a spin to get his Ferrari over the line to take the chequered flag.

Albon and Williams Racing continued to impress, securing second place, just 0.173s behind Leclerc, despite an earlier electrical glitch in the session. Alonso managed to complete a lap on soft tyres just before the rain arrived, placing him ahead of Pierre Gasly and Lewis Hamilton, who showed much better pace after a disappointing Friday.

Carlos Sainz Jr. set the pace in the early stages of the session but dropped to sixth as other drivers improved their times. Logan Sargeant delivered an encouraging performance, finishing seventh in the other Williams, as he searches for his first points finish. Verstappen followed in eighth place.

George Russell took ninth place in the second Mercedes, ahead of the Scuderia AlphaTauri duo Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries. Lando Norris ended up in twelfth after an incident early in the session where he stopped at the end of the pit lane and required assistance from a mechanic. The stewards planned to investigate the incident after the session.

Lance Stroll managed to complete a lap on soft tires just before the conditions turned from dry to wet, placing him thirteenth for Aston Martin Armaco Cognizant F1 Team, ahead of Pérez, Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Ocon, and Oscar Piastri.

Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake missed the early part of the session, which meant they missed the best weather conditions. While Valtteri Bottas eventually went out on track and completed a solid number of laps, his teammate Zhou Guanyu faced apparent technical issues and remained in the pits, leaving him with next to no running.

As a result, Bottas finished eighteenth, with Zhou at the bottom of the order in twentieth. Nico Hülkenberg, who also didn’t manage to set a representative time on soft tires, fell between them in nineteenth place.

Rain is looking once again for qualifying, and it will certainly be an interesting session at Silverstone.

1 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 1:27.419 24
2 Alexander Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:27.592 +0.173s 14
3 Fernando Alonso ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 1:27.784 +0.365s 17
4 Pierre Gasly ALPINE RENAULT 1:27.893 +0.474s 19
5 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:27.948 +0.529s 16
6 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 1:27.964 +0.545s 21
7 Logan Sargeant WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:28.151 +0.732s 16
8 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 1:28.266 +0.847s 19
9 George Russell MERCEDES 1:28.284 +0.865s 17
10 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 1:28.337 +0.918s 21
11 Nyck De Vries ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT 1:28.504 +1.085s 20
12 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:28.563 +1.144s 18
13 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 1:28.620 +1.201s 15
14 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT 1:28.904 +1.485s 19
15 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:29.207 +1.788s 13
16 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 1:29.233 +1.814s 22
17 Oscar Piastri MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:29.437 +2.018s 20
18 Valtteri Bottas ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 1:29.586 +2.167s 15
19 Nico Hulkenberg HAAS FERRARI 1:33.590 +6.171s 13