May 16, 2021

P3: Hamilton stamps authority at Silverstone

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Mercedes drivers again in a league of their own around Silverstone; But Lando Norris takes third for McLaren to be closest challenger

By James Galloway

Last Updated: 08/08/20 12:13pm

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas appear poised for another closely-fought pole position battle at Silverstone after Mercedes’ drivers were split by barely a tenth of a second in final practice for F1’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

Hamilton, the championship leader and last week’s Silverstone victor, finished ahead with a best lap of 1:26.621 with Bottas just 0.163s adrift.

But while Mercedes’ dominance at the front appears unlikely to be challenged, the battle behind is a little more difficult to call.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen remains the man most likely to take third on the grid but he finished only seventh in P3 after being held up on what should have been his quickest lap by Racing Point’s Lance Stroll.

Instead, Lando Norris took an eye-catching third for McLaren with Racing Point stand-in Nico Hulkenberg continuing to find more speed on his F1 return and finishing fourth fastest.

“Great job. He’s really getting to grips with this car,” said Sky F1’s Jenson Button of Hulkenberg.

A little bit quicker than Stroll [0.007s], and it’s going to be interesting who’s on top in qualifying.”

Qualifying for the sport’s Anniversary GP starts at 2pm, with build-up from 1pm on Sky Sports F1 and Sky One.

1:22
Introducing a new seven-part Sky original docuseries looking at the incredible 70-year history of Formula 1. Coming to Sky F1 and Sky Documentaries on September 12

Introducing a new seven-part Sky original docuseries looking at the incredible 70-year history of Formula 1. Coming to Sky F1 and Sky Documentaries on September 12

Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, was back in action after his Ferrari engine let go at the end of Friday but the four-time champion continued to struggle on the timesheet, finishing down in 13th.

On that evidence, the two-time Silverstone winner would in danger of missing out on the Q3 shootout in qualifying. Team-mate Charles Leclerc again looked happier in the SF1000 and was sixth, close behind Norris and the Racing Points.

More to follow…