FP3: A Montreal hat-trick for Verstappen
In Saturday morning’s final practice session we finally got to see Mercedes’ pace on the fastest, hypersoft tyres – and it wasn’t enough to overhaul Red Bull, who topped their third practice session of the weekend, again courtesy of Max Verstappen.
Mercedes couldn’t match Ferrari either, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finishing second and third, ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the leading Silver Arrow. The good news for the world champions was that just a tenth of a second covered all four cars.
Verstappen’s team mate Daniel Riccardo, who believes Mercedes are the ones to fear this weekend, got a full session under his belt after an electrical problem had confined him to the garage for much of yesterday's second session. The Australian ultimately finished fifth, narrowly ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the other Mercedes.
Behind the top three teams, the enthralling ‘best of the rest’ battle took another twist in Montreal. McLaren and Haas were the fourth-best teams in FP1 and FP2 respectively, but the Force India of Sergio Perez took that honour in this final hour of practice.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, no doubt desperate to put a “difficult” Friday behind him, was just 0.043s behind Perez in P8, while Haas’ Romain Grosjean continued his impressive weekend with another top-ten finish.
Stoffel Vandoorne bounced back from his shunt in FP2 to make up the top ten for McLaren, a result which will give him confidence as he looks to out-qualify team mate Fernando Alonso, who came 13th, for the first time in 12 races.
Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also continued to show signs of improvement, finishing just behind Force India’s Esteban Ocon in 12th, while his team mate Pierre Gasly ended down in 15th. Ahead of the Gasly was McLaren’s Fernando Alonso followed by Renault’s Carlos Sainz, who kept out of trouble after his crash in FP2.
Sauber went about their business quietly, Charles Leclerc coming home 16th and Marcus Ericsson 19th. The former will be looking to reach Q2 for the fourth race in a row, so that’s certainly a development to keep an eye on later.
Meanwhile in the other Haas, Kevin Magnussen appears to be still getting into his stride in Canada, finishing down in 17th. And the struggles continued at Williams - Sergey Sirotkin came 18th while local hero Lance Stroll was bottom of the standings.
So will Red Bull make it four out of four later in qualifying? We’ll soon find out.