Russell pips Hamilton as Mercedes dominate British GP FP3

Rain fell during the final practice session before British GP qualifying, making the conditions tricky for the drivers at Silverstone

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George Russell went quickest ahead of Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes secured a 1-2 in the final free practice session in the rain at the Formula 1 2024 British Grand Prix on Saturday.

Russell was just 0.035 of a second faster than his team-mate Hamilton in the British GP F3 session where the drivers were forced to fit the wet weather tyres. Lando Norris, who was fastest in FP2, was less than two tenths behind to make it an all-British top three.

The typical English ‘summer’ weather arrived on Saturday with blustery winds and heavy showers in the morning, making conditions tricky for the drivers on the rain-soaked surface at Silverstone.

Russell’s time, a 1:37.325, is some way off the lap record at the Northamptonshire circuit, but it may reflect how Mercedes are best suited to the wet as they were some distance clear of Red Bull and Ferrari, with Max Verstappen strangely off the pace down in P6.

Max Verstappen during final practice ahead 2024 British Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen in the wet during FP3 ahead of the 2024 British Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The rain would created some unwanted jeopardy for the drivers, but the session would at least give the drivers some valuable data for the most important sessions of the weekend, with British GP weather forecasts predicting another downpour later on Saturday afternoon for qualifying and Sunday’s race.

Verstappen was the first driver to get himself in a spin, losing the rear of his RB20 at Abbey, before positioning his Red Bull car in the right direction with a well-executed 180-degree spin.

British FP3 trouble for Gasly and Ricciardo

Just seven minutes into the session, Pierre Gasly spun heading into Vale corner and beached his Alpine car into the gravel, giving Race Control no option but to bring the session to a halt with a red flag.

It wouldn’t matter too much, however, as Gasly will start Sunday’s race at the back of the grid for after taking a penalty for fitting new engine components beyond the amount allowed.

But he was left in the team garage for the entirety of the session while his engineers inspected the damage.

On his way back to the pits, Daniel Ricciardo fell foul of the stewards after bizarrely weaving in the pit lane, which looked somewhat dangerous given the conditions and close proximity to mechanics, and the Australian will be investigated after the session.

Lewis Hamilton showed his preference for the wet weather by going seven tenths quicker than Verstappen on the intermediate tyre, although with a dry line appearing and the track rubbering in, times would start to fall. Two laps later, Verstappen beat that time by another seven tenths to highlight the track evolution.

Heading into the final 15 minutes of the session, Russell, Hamilton and Norris were the top three drivers, which will go down well with the British crowd if there is a repeat later on Saturday afternoon in qualifying.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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