British Grand Prix practice: Lewis Hamilton pips Sebastian Vettel

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in final practice for the British Grand Prix, beating Formula 1 championship rival Sebastian Vettel by just 0.032 seconds on Saturday morning

British Grand Prix practice: Lewis Hamilton pips Sebastian Vettel

With the session commencing with an 80% chance of rain, most drivers opted to get out on track early on before the bad weather had chance to hit, which it finally did in the final 20 minutes.

Valtteri Bottas, who has been hit by a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, led the way in the opening runs on soft tyres, setting an early benchmark of 1m28.827s in the first 10 minutes.

His Mercedes team-mate Hamilton then took the top spot with a 1m28.747s on the yellow-marked rubber, which stood as the best time until he put on super-soft tyres just shy of the halfway mark and set a 1m28.063s to go seven tenths clear of the pack.

Bottas was only able to come within 0.151s of Hamilton on his first run on super-softs, and it was Ferrari driver Vettel who emerged as the three-time champion's closest rival as he slotted into second, just 0.032s adrift.

With the rain arriving 15 minutes later, Hamilton's effort stood as the best time of the session - and the weekend so far - with Vettel staying second and Bottas improving marginally to complete a top three covered by just 0.074s.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth-fastest in the second Ferrari, a full 0.669s behind Hamilton on the super-soft tyres, and nearly eight tenths up on fifth-placed Nico Hulkenberg in the Renault.

Best of the Red Bull drivers was Daniel Ricciardo in sixth, 1.549s slower than Hamilton, followed by the Haas of Romain Grosjean and Max Verstappen, whose best time was set on softs.

Verstappen did attempt a super-soft run, but left it too late and was caught out by the rain, running off-track at Brooklands and quickly returning to the pits.

Felipe Massa's Williams and Stoffel Vandoorne's McLaren completed the top 10, Vandoorne eclipsing team-mate Fernando Alonso by 0.050s.

Besides Verstappen, the only other drivers not to set their best time on super-softs were Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr, who was 17th-fastest, and the second Williams of Lance Stroll, who propped up the timesheets, 1.4s slower than Massa.

All drivers headed out in the closing stages of the session on intermediate tyres, an extra set of them having been supplied by Pirelli for the session.

A handful of late incidents showed how tricky conditions had become - Ricciardo spinning but avoiding the wall exiting Club and Marcus Ericsson pirouetting on the approach to Vale.

PRACTICE THREE RESULTS:

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m28.063s - 18
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m28.095s 0.032s 14
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m28.137s 0.074s 20
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m28.732s 0.669s 15
5 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m29.480s 1.417s 14
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m29.612s 1.549s 15
7 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m29.819s 1.756s 14
8 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m29.904s 1.841s 13
9 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m29.959s 1.896s 19
10 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Honda 1m30.088s 2.025s 19
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m30.138s 2.075s 17
12 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m30.172s 2.109s 19
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m30.270s 2.207s 15
14 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m30.302s 2.239s 16
15 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m30.416s 2.353s 16
16 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 1m30.504s 2.441s 20
17 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Renault 1m30.515s 2.452s 19
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber/Ferrari 1m30.621s 2.558s 24
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m30.630s 2.567s 24
20 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m31.358s 3.295s 18


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