Silverstone, FP3: Leclerc goes quickest in rain-affected session

Ahead of Albon and Alonso


By Franck Drui

8 July 2023 - 13:38
Silverstone, FP3: Leclerc goes (...)

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc topped the timesheet in the final free practice session ahead of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 British Grand Prix, beating Williams’ Alex Albon by just under two tenths of a second, with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in a session affected by rain.

Early in the session championship leader Max Verstappen set the pace with a medium-tyre lap of 1:28.836 before Mercedes Lewis Hamilton got close, just 0.13s slower than the Dutchman to take P2, though the seven-time champion was on soft tyres.

Verstappen then improved to 1:28.266, but he was ousted from top spot by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who posted a 1:27.964 on soft tyres to close out the opening quarter of the session.

Hamilton then moved to the top with a lap of 1:27.948s, but Leclerc then claimed P1 with a full suite of purple sectors and a time of 1:27.419 to sit more than half a second clear of Hamilton.

The threat of the rain that had hung in the air since the beginning of the session then began to materialise. However, the first drops couldn’t prevent Albon from rocketing up the timesheet to P2 with a lap of 1:25.592, set on softs. That left the Williams driver 0.173s off Leclerc. Alonso then rose to third, almost two tenths off Albon and Alpine’s Pierre Gasly slipped past Hamilton to claim P4.

The rain began to intensify and the field retreated to the pit lane to monitor conditions. As the shower weakened McLaren’s Lando Norris tested the track on Intermediate tyres before Mercedes’ George Russell went out on the same rubber and determined that it would soon be good enough for slick tyres. Norris gave the soft tyres a run but soon headed back to the sanctuary of the pit lane leaving the track to Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas who ran on Intermediates. They were joined in the later stages of the hour by Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes who all conducted information gathering laps on the Intermediates.

With Hamilton fifth, sixth place went to Sainz, with Logan Sargeant seventh in the fleet Williams FW45. Verstappen’s best lap on mediums left him in eighth place, ahead of Russell, while AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top 10.

01 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF-23 1:27.419 24
02 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW45 1:27.529 14
03 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:27.784 17
04 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault A523 1:27.893 19
05 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W14 1:27.948 16
06 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF-23 1:27.964 21
07 Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes FW45 1:28.151 16
08 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19 1:28.266 19
09 George Russell Mercedes W14 1:28.284 17
10 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:28.337 21
11 Nyck de Vries AlphaTauri Honda RBPT AT04 1:28.504 20
12 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:28.563 18
13 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR23 1:28.620 15
14 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RBPT RB19 1:28.904 19
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:29.207 13
16 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A523 1:29.233 22
17 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes MCL60 1:29.437 20
18 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43 1:29.586 15
19 Nico Hülkenberg Haas Ferrari VF-23 1:33.590 13
20 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C43 -:—.--- 2

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