Canadian GP: Lewis Hamilton in surprise FP3 surge as Max Verstappen recovers to P2

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton in Canadian Grand Prix practice.

Lewis Hamilton in the garage at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton took top spot in FP3 for the Canadian Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen second as Mercedes showed a turn of speed over one lap at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

George Russell was third, Lance Stroll fourth and Oscar Piastri rounded out the top five – but Hamilton held a 0.374s gap to Verstappen as the Mercedes driver, a seven-time winner around Montréal, showed a flash of pace, while the reigning World Champion recovered from ERS issues on Friday to put Red Bull second.

Lewis Hamilton tops FP3 as Canadian GP qualifying prep ramps up

After the mixed conditions that hampered the drivers’ running on Friday, FP3 started in completely dry conditions in Montréal on Saturday, with the drivers getting straight out on track for the final practice hour.

Max Verstappen, on his first flying lap, suffered a snap of oversteer into the final chicane and hopped over the kerbs, dubbing the steering on his Red Bull “super weird for me” afterwards.

After a run into the wall in FP1 on Friday, a rear lock-up for Zhou Guanyu into Turn 1 saw him spin his Sauber and slide backwards into the barrier on the entry to Turn 2 – which brought out the red flags after six minutes of the session.

It was only a brief hiatus while Zhou’s car was extracted and brought back to the pit lane, however, with the rest of the field quickly able to get back on with their FP3 programmes.

With the drivers exploring the limits in representative conditions arguably for the first time this weekend, Alex Albon ran onto the grass at the chicane of Turns 8 and 9, blaming brake issues at that time.

A 1:14.870 from Fernando Alonso on hard tyres topped the timings in the first 20 minutes, improving by four tenths to a 1:14.445 as the drivers looked to make up for lost time, after the rain hindered their running on Friday.

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With that, teams were looking to take a split approach in free practice – Ferrari confirming they were doing so midway through FP3 with Carlos Sainz on soft tyres and Charles Leclerc on mediums, while Red Bull were looking to longer-run pace and sister team RB were looking at qualifying pace.

As were Williams, with Logan Sargeant setting purple first and second sectors before going top on a 1:14.355, with Sainz unable to beat him on soft tyres.

That time at the top of the leaderboard would not last long for the American, though, as George Russell soon pipped Sargeant as more drivers began to make the switch to soft tyres.

A flurry of one-lap runs came in and Lewis Hamilton put himself quickest on a 1:13.464, just 0.011s ahead of Lando Norris heading into the final third of FP3, with the drivers and teams getting their eyes in ahead of qualifying later on.

The first brush with the Wall of Champions came late in the session as the Williams of Alex Albon damaged his suspension on the way out of Turn 14, a big hit on the final kerb sending him wide and brushing the final wall. He was able to keep going, albeit slowly, and bring his car back to the pit lane.

A further chunk of flying laps came towards the end of the session, with Russell initially getting ahead of Mercedes team-mate Hamilton, before the seven-time World Champion went seven tenths quicker than anybody, on a 1:12.549.

Rivals looked to close the gap to Hamilton as FP3 came to a close, but while others leapfrogged each other, it was Verstappen who came closest – but only to within four tenths of the Mercedes driver as an unpredictable qualifying session was set up at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Saturday.

Canadian Grand Prix 2024: FP3 classification

1 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes 1:12.549
2 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.374
3 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.408
4 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.477
5 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +0.717
6 Daniel RICCIARDO RB +0.730
7 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.744
8 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.791
9 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.793
10 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.800
11 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas +0.890
12 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +1.021
13 Valtteri BOTTAS Kick Sauber +1.093
14 Logan SARGEANT Williams +1.114
15 Yuki TSUNODA RB +1.167
16 Pierre GASLY Alpine +1.188
17 Nico HULKENBERG Haas +1.228
18 Alexander ALBON Williams +1.331
19 Esteban OCON Alpine +1.526
20 ZHOU Guanyu Kick Sauber +6.107

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