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Canadian Grand Prix: F1 Free Practice 3 Results

Canadian Grand Prix: F1 Free Practice 3 Results

A final opportunity for drivers and teams to optimise setups before the all-important Qualifying session...

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20 cars headed out onto the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the final practice session of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend.

Fernando Alonso topped the timings at the end of Friday’s second practice session (Image Credit: @F1 on X)

After Charles Leclerc’s home victory at the Monaco Grand Prix a almost two weeks ago, rumblings of a potential close battle for both Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships became even more evident.

While the running order hasn’t been the clearly established so far this weekend due to the changeable weather conditions, one thing has become difficult to ignore. Defending Champions Red Bull are clearly struggling with a fundamental issue on their RB20 car.

Points leader Max Verstappen was not expecting to be the fastest on track in Montreal, as the car beneath him lacks drivability over the many bumps and high kerbs around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. But being two seconds off the pace in FP1, followed by an ERS malfunction in the next session must have been worse than he and the team were imagining going into Round 9 of the season.

Lando Norris was quickest in FP1, while Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso was the surprise P1 at the end of FP2. Ferrari have been right up there as well, while Mercedes have gained ground on their rivals so far in Canada. Weather permitting, all ten teams will be hoping to gather as much data as possible before they turn up the heat and determine the starting grid in Qualifying during FP3.

Initial laps

While clouds loomed over the circuit, initial forecasts suggested that there would be dry conditions for the hour-long session ahead.

Verstappen was raring to go and went out on track first on the Medium compound of tyre. On his first flying lap the Dutchman lost the rear end through the final chicane, and therefore aborted his attempt.

His Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez, put his RB20 to the top of the timing screens with a 1:18.096, over a second ahead of Carlos Sainz in P2. This time was swiftly beaten by the Alpine of Pierre Gasly, who pushed hard to go fastest with a 1:16.412.

The cameras suddenly switched to a stricken Zhou Guanyu, who clattered the barriers on the outside on Turn 2 and brought out the Red flag. A second accident of the weekend for the Chinese driver; far from ideal when he is trying to retain his seat in F1 beyond 2024.

Practice restarts

Practice got back underway in a matter of minutes, with everyone on the Medium tyre apart from Alonso, Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda on the slower but longer-lasting Hard compound.

Verstappen beat Gasly’s time by almost a second, setting a 1:15.495. The latter improved on his previous best but nevertheless dropped to P3, as Haas’ Kevin Magnussen moved up to second position with a 1:16.199.

Nico Hulkenberg in the other Haas finally got his first representative time out: 1:16.373 good enough for eighth. Alonso continued his good form by slotting into P2 despite running on the Hard tyre, while Alexander Albon went for a trip through the grass at the Turn 3/4 chicane.

With just over 40 minutes to go, Alonso went one better and claimed P1 from Verstappen with a 1:14.870. So far the pair were the only drivers to set times in the 1:14s.

Stroll moved up to third place with a 1:15.006, just before Alonso turned up the wick once again by moving almost half a second clear of Verstappen in P2. Daniel Ricciardo and Norris made it four cars in the 1:14s, moving up to second and third respectively.

Times continued to tumble as drivers acclimatised to the newly resurfaced (and dry) circuit. However, both Ferrari and Mercedes appeared to be focussing on race simulations, and thus languished more than two seconds off the pace as the session reached its halfway stage. Perez had yet to go quicker than his lap at the very start, causing him to drop all the way to 19th. In fact, the Mexican’s car was in the pits with its tyres taken off as mechanics conducted various repairs and replaced parts.

Practice progresses, Soft tyre runs

Sainz opted for a run on the fastest Soft tyre, as did the Williams of Logan Sargeant. The latter topped the timings with a 1:14.355, while Sainz climbed from 17th all the way up to P3 on his fast lap.

Sargeant was bumped down to second position as George Russell manoeuvred his W15 into P1 with a 1:14.279, also on the Soft tyre. Leclerc complained on his team radio of poor braking performance, but nevertheless set a time good enough for first: a 1:13.581.

The Monegasque’s time on top was short-lived, as Lewis Hamilton went even quicker with a 1:13.464. Norris dropped Leclerc down another peg as he moved up to P2, just over a hundredth of a second slower than Hamilton’s time.

With just under a quarter of an hour remaining, Russell usurped his teammate on top of the timing screens with a purple middle sector, setting a 1:13.274.

Final runs

As the clock ticked into the last ten minutes of practice, the majority of cars were still in the pits. Albon hit his rear left tyre on the Wall of Champions, bending his suspension and briefly bringing out the Yellow flags. He managed to limp his Williams back into the garage.

Mercedes continued to light up the boards as Hamilton set a 1:12.549 to claim P1 with a 0.7 second advantage. In fact, nobody was able to get anywhere near Hamilton’s time as the session drew to a close; Verstappen closed the deficit to 0.374 seconds despite brushing the Wall of Champions.. Would the Brackley-based outfit be a genuine challenger for pole position in Qualifying later on?

Full results

TBA

Feature Image Credit: @F1 on X

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