Sainz in the wall, Verstappen at the top of sodden Canadian GP FP3

Max Verstappen led Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for FP3 at the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen was quickest in a soaking final practice for the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix, while Carlos Sainz‘s dampened an otherwise positive morning for Ferrari.

The session started under full wet conditions before the Formula 1 grid switched to intermediate tyres a few laps in.

It stayed that way for most of FP3, but the rain intensified in the last ten minutes giving drivers another chance on the blue-walled tyres.

Verstappen navigated the conditions masterfully and was near or at the top of the timesheets for most of the session, he finished three-tenths ahead of Charles Leclerc who was mostly quicker in a straight line.

But despite this success, it was a mixed session for Ferrari as Carlos Sainz was the only driver to hit the wall. The Spaniard crashed at the midpoint of the session and caused a stoppage of just under ten minutes, losing control at the first corner and spinning into the right-hand barrier.

He’d just set the then-second-fastest time of the session, ahead of Leclerc, but with just three hours between his crash and the start of qualifying, Ferrari mechanics face a race against time with worries about the health of Sainz‘s gearbox.

He’s also got to make a trip to the stewards after Alex Albon complained he’d been impeded several times by Sainz, who still finished fifth on the timesheets.

Carlos Sainz in FP2 for the 2023 Canadian GP | Ferrari F1 Team

But it was Mercedes who were the big losers of the day, as Fernando Alonso was third-quickest with teammate Lance Stroll – usually quick in the wet – seventh. The other takeaway from the session was the wet-intermediate tyre crossover time looks like between 1:26 and 1:29

Kevin Magnussen was the standout star from the second half of the grid, putting his Haas fourth with Pierre Gasly also looking good for Alpine in sixth and just a tenth behind the Dane.

Yuki Tsunoda, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton rounded out the top ten behind Stroll.

Mercedes crash back to earth

Mercedes scored a one-two FP2, but they were well off the pace ahead of qualifying. George Russell finished a lowly 15th, 2.3 seconds off the pace while Hamilton was still almost two seconds behind Verstappen.

Both drivers struggled to heat their tyres up to the operating window in the W14, and look to have resigned themselves to a difficult Saturday afternoon.

However, with the race still expected to be dry then they’ll likely set up the car for that and hope to claw back any qualifying losses in the grand prix.

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