Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap of final practice for the British Grand in a session that was red flagged for more than 15 minutes following a heavy crash involving Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.
After a muted first half due to a track that was too damp for slick tyres but not quite wet enough to warrant pushing on intermediates, the track began to get busier as the session began to get busier as conditions improved. Running on the soft tyre, Hamilton slashed two seconds of Sebastian Vettel’s earlier benchmark and that signalled to most that the track was now ready for a quali sim.
Ericsson, though, ran slightly wide on the exit at Stowe and got onto the wet astroturf. He immediately lost control and was sent spinning nose first into the barriers where he smashed the front of the car before bouncing around to demolish the back end of his Sauber. The red flags were immediately displayed.
The Swede was quickly out of the car but was later taken to hospital for routine checks.
Repair work to the tyre belt at the crash site took some time to fix and the session resumed with just five minutes left on the clock.
It was the cue for a mass track invasion as drivers scrambled to get in a quick laps on the soft tyres.
And at the end of a frantic final few minutes it was Hamilton who emerged as the quickest, last year’s British Grand Prix winner putting in a lap of 1:30.904, 1.3s up on his Silverstone pole position time of 2015.
The defending champion finished only marginally ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg, however. Yesterday the German lost all of FP2 though technical glitches and he was the busiest man on track this morning, posting 17 laps across the hour in a bid to gather as much information as possible ahead of qualifying. Hiw work was rewarded with a quali lap just 0.063 behind his team-mate.
This place in the session went to Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo. The Red Bulls have, perhaps unexpectedly, looked the best of the rest this weekend and the Ricciardo ended final practice with a time of 1:31.488, 0.584 behind Hamilton. The Australian’s team-mate Max Verstappen was fourth, a further 0.073 back.
Fifth place went to Sebastian Vettel, who finished almost half a second adrift of Verstappen. The gap was not the only issue the German had to worry about, however, as at the end of the session he reported a problem with his gearbox.
Behind him, Valtteri Bottas was sixth for Williams ahead of Fernando Alonso who continued to give McLaren hope of a Q3 berth this afternoon.
Nico Hulkenberg was eighth for Force India and the final two top–ten spots were taken by Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and Carlos Sainz in the lead Toro Rosso.
2016 British Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:30.904 10
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:30.967 18
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:31.488 6
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:31.561 7
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:32.049 10
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:32.736 15
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:32.754 11
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:32.798 14
9 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:32.833 13
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:32.889 10
11 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:32.895 12
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1:33.042 11
13 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:33.344 13
14 Sergio Perez Force India 1:33.361 13
15 Felipe Massa Williams 1:33.440 14
16 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:33.538 10
17 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:33.710 10
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:33.769 13
19 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:34.049 10
20 Rio Haryanto Manor 1:34.471 14
21 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:34.551 7
22 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:34.658 11