Hamilton in lead, Verstappen strong: Free Practice 3 at the British GP
Mercedes' Hamilton led FP3 after Rosberg led the first two practice sessions.
Most drivers were on hard tyre compounds today, with the only notable exceptions in the form of Romain Grosjean of Lotus, home driver Jenson Button of McLaren and his teammate Fernando Alonso. Sergio Perez of Force India was also on hard tyres.
The weather at Silverstone seemed overcast, but an examination of the weather forecast shows that no precipitation is likely this evening.
Silverstone looks set for very windy weather, however, and this showed during practice. Several drivers had problems at Copse (turn 9), pushed by strong winds at the corner. Cars were pushed in, unable to turn out. Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari was heard on team radio asking about the corner, which looks to be a challenge this race.
Ferrari did better than usual this qualifying session, with a flagging Raikkonen picking up the pace. He finished P3 in third behind yet another Mercedes 1-2. Teammate Vettel finished in time right behind his teammate.
The Silver Arrows continued their domination all through practice. While Rosberg led the first two practice sessions, he had gearbox issues this session, finishing in 2nd overall behind teammate Hamilton. The Prancing Horses were not far behind, though. At FP2, both drivers led Mercedes’ Hamilton, who finished that session in an overall fourth spot.
McLaren look set for another disappointing outing at Silverstone, with Button complaining on team radio that his car and tyres were “vibrating too much”. Neither driver finished in the top 10. Manor-Marussia had yet another disappointing outing at this practice session, with both Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi at the bottom of the grid. They underperformed at the Austrian Grand Prix as well, with Merhi the last of all drivers who completed the race. Stevens did not finish that race due to an oil leak in his vehicle.
Force India confirmed they were using their B-spec car this racing weekend, but this does not seem to have helped the team much. However, Perez, Hulkenberg and deputy team principal Bob Fernley warned against what he described as ‘expecting too much’. Hulkenberg also said he would need ‘enough time to get used to the car’ before changes to the car would reflect in performance.
Red Bull and sister team Toro Rosso put in strong performances today, although Daniel Ricciardo had intense heat and pressure on his hard tyres.
The standout performance today came from Max Verstappen of Toro Rosso, who has been showcasing his talent significantly this year. The Dutch teen, who at 17 is the youngest driver on the grid, lost pressure in his tyres and pitted. He finished FP3 strongly, however, ahead of Felipe Massa, who has significant experience over him.
This brought up a pertinent question – why is Raikkonen targeted when he is beaten by a less experienced, younger driver but this does not appear to apply to Massa?
For now, it looks to be another Mercedes-dominated race. A key difference between the 2014 Grand Prix and this year, however, is that the weather has been completely dry. The 2014 GP, won by Hamilton following a Rosberg pole position, had been a wet one. Hamilton had the fastest lap at today’s session ahead of qualifying.