FP3 review & qualifying favorites for the British Grand Prix
Qualifying at Silverstone is nearly upon us, so who are the favorites for pole position at the British Grand Prix?
Though practice sessions do not accurately represent the true speed of each team, they do often provide target times for the qualifying sessions that follow - as was evident on Saturday morning.
Photo credit: Mercedes
As temperatures cooled from Friday’s FP1 and FP2 sessions, Mercedes’ speed soared in FP3, with Valtteri Bottas posting the fastest lap (1.25.873) as teammate Lewis Hamilton lined up behind him with a 1:26.011. Based on their qualifying simulations and the resulting times, the Silver Arrows look set for yet another dominating performance at Silverstone.
Red Bull back on form
In contrast to the Hungarian Grand Prix two weeks ago, Red Bull look to be in contention for a top three position in qualifying, as Max Verstappen briefly placed himself in P2 during FP3 before being shunted back down to P3 by Lewis Hamilton.
The Dutchman might yet find more time, having reported vibrations from his front left tyre through Silverstone’s high-speed corners and a lack of rear grip by the end of the lap; if Red Bull can diagnose and remedy those slight inconvenience, Verstappen might just have a chance at fighting for pole position.
Photo credit: Red Bull
On the opposite end of the spectrum was teammate Alex Albon, who was forced to sit out the majority of FP3 due to an ERS (Energy Recovery System) fault, and only managed to post a 1:27.178 when he was finally able to run on track; a full 1.3s off of the benchmark Mercedes time, and one second behind his teammate in P3.
Not only did Alex Albon have his ERS issue to circumnavigate, the Thai driver also had to build his shaken confidence following yesterday’s heavy shunt with the barrier at Stowe (Turn 15). The accident red flagged FP2 and consequently sent the Red Bull mechanics into a flurry of synchronized harmony, to rebuild his RB16 in time for the third and final practice session on Saturday.
Racing Point on point
Based on the times posted by both Racing Points throughout practice on Friday and Saturday, the Pink Panthers seem to be in with a shot of a top five qualifying position. Though Stroll and the returning Hulkenberg were somewhat off the pace in FP3, they both remained inside the top ten and showed consistent flashes of speed.
Photo credit: Racing Point
Surprisingly, given his absence from Formula 1 and quite abrupt return, former Renault Driver Nico Hukenberg - filling in for Sergio Perez who tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday - impressed in Racing Point’s RP20. Given the team’s relative success in 2020 thus far, the pressure will be on for Hulkenberg to maintain their steady progress and deliver representative results.
All eyes set on qualifying
With qualifying just under an hour away, teams and drivers are now preparing themselves for the rapidfire shootout that will ensue to determine Sunday’s starting grid; who will claim supremacy around the historic and high-speed Silverstone circuit?