Sport sometimes seems to take a back seat in this Grand Prix celebrating the 70th anniversary of Formula 1, during a weekend that in a way offers us typical debates of the premier category of motorsport: the decision taken by the Commissioners on the legality of Racing Point RP20 do not really satisfy anyone, while the signing of the new Concorde Agreements is uncertain for Mercedes.
On the Silverstone circuit and its fast corners, this final hour of free practice allowed the competitors to continue to evaluate the soft, difficult to exploit here, and medium compounds, to establish the best option for qualifying. However, with most of the competitors having already covered nearly a thousand kilometers on the English track in the last ten days, no one was quick to take the track. We had to wait more than ten minutes to get the first lap times, those of McLarens, then joined by Ferraris leading the shakedown of the new engine parts fitted to the two SF1000s.
By the time it reached halfway, all the drivers had a time under their belt, with the Mercedes drivers standing in two hundredths of a second with Valtteri Bottas in 1’27 “509, both on soft tires. Max Verstappen in 1’27 ” 702, then Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon more than half a second from the reference. All of them made their stopwatch with the red stripes, unlike Charles Leclerc, seventh in 1’28 “346 with the mediums.
The second half of these EL3s saw Lando Norris temporarily climb to first place, with a 1’27 “202 … in mediums. The lap times however logically fell thereafter, with Lewis Hamilton in 1’26 “621 and Bottas in 1’26” 784, still wearing soft tires. Verstappen was on course to give them a hard time, but after setting the absolute best time in the first section, he was hampered by Racing Point from Throws Stroll in the very quick Maggots-Becketts-Chapel sequence. The Dutchman did not fail to express his dissatisfaction with a series of swear words whose exact content will not be known.
Norris’ time was enough for him to grab third place, a sign of the potential of the mediums compared to the soft ones, just ahead of the Racing Point of a Nico Hülkenberg by his own admission more at ease than last weekend and Stroll. Follow Leclerc, Verstappen, Albon – the Red Bull clearly did not realize their potential – Ocon and Sainz. The hierarchy of the back of the peloton is in line with usual, since Haas, Williams and Alfa Romeo bring up the rear.