Max Verstappen went from Red Bull wondering overnight if they were heading in the wrong direction to leading the way, almost half a second up on his nearest non-Red Bull rival in FP3 for the British Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver laid down a 1:27.901 to beat Sergio Perez by four tenths of a second, with Charles Leclerc a further 0.037s off the pace.
But perhaps the highlight of the session, at least for the British fans, was the news from the Mercedes camp of “no bouncing” as reported by George Russell. Carlos Sainz could not say the same.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 2, 2022
Final practice at the British Grand Prix took place on a dry track with heavy grey skies overhead, the track 10 degrees cooler than in FP2 and the gusts “30kph” as Aston Martin informed Lance Stroll.
Alpine, after Friday’s bouncing, were first out with Esteban Ocon ahead of Fernando Alonso. The 1-2 though was short-lived as McLaren hit the front, also 1-2, then Ferrari took over at the top, Charles Leclerc putting in a 1:29.4 to edge Carlos Sainz by 0.3s.
What were initially thought to be problems at Haas for Kevin Magnussen turned out to be nothing more than a set-up change, the Dane soon joining his team-mate Mick Schumacher on track.
Back at the front, Leclerc upped his pace to a 1:29.0 with Sergio Perez second ahead of Lewis Hamilton…make that George Russell as he followed Hamilton’s lead with two warm-up laps before going for a hot one to take third from his team-mate.
It was all change as Max Verstappen went quickest on his first flying lap, the reigning World Champion clocking a 1:28.5 – purple in all three sectors. That put him 0.48s ahead of Leclerc, the Monégasque driver warned by Ferrari that rain was on the way.
Russell’s next lap elevated him to third behind Verstappen and Leclerc before Hamilton, on a flyer, jumped up to second place, the seven-time former World Champion 0.2s down on Verstappen as Russell dropped to fifth.
📻 George: "No bouncing."
📻 Ricci: "Copy that."
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) July 2, 2022
Over at Ferrari though, the bouncing was very much in play at least for Sainz. “The problems from yesterday in the high speed are not better,” reported the Spaniard.
Verstappen upped his pace to a 1:28.3, with Hamilton closing the gap to a tenth and Leclerc almost half a second down ahead of Sainz, Russell and Perez. Alonso was holding down best of the rest in seventh. That was the order ahead of the traditional qualifying simulations.
One by one the drivers ventured out on shiny new red-marked Pirellis, Lando Norris and Schumacher jumping into the top 10 in seventh and eighth places, Sebastian Vettel falling short in 11th as did Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo and Magnussen.
With all eyes turning to the top six, Verstappen went purple, purple and purple with a 1:27.9, Perez jumped up to second but was four tenths off the pace with Leclerc a further 0.037s down.
Russell finished fourth fastest ahead of Hamilton, Sainz, Norris and Valtteri Bottas, with Schumacher and Alonso completing the top 10.
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:27.901 16 laps
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull 0.410s 19 laps
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.447s 20 laps
4 George Russell Mercedes 0.525s 19 laps
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.587s 23 laps
6 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 0.788s 20 laps
7 Lando Norris McLaren 1.201s 19 laps
8 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing 1.284s 18 laps
9 Mick Schumacher Haas 1.609s 19 laps
10 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1.619s 19 laps
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1.651s 23 laps
12 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1.692s 23 laps
13 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing 1.851s 15 laps
14 Alex Albon Williams 1.879s 20 laps
15 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.984s 22 laps
16 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1.991s 25 laps
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 2.138s 21 laps
18 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 2.392s 20 laps
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams 2.588s 15 laps
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 2.622s 18 laps