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FP3: Leclerc heads Albon and Alonso in FP3 at Silverstone as rain arrives

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NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 08: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-23 on track

Charles Leclerc bounced back from his second practice woes to set the pace during Saturday’s third session at the Silverstone Circuit, leading the way from the ever-impressive Williams of Alex Albon and Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin before a mid-session shower.

Following a warm and dry opening day at the historic venue, wet conditions greeted the drivers as they returned to the track ahead of the FP3 hour, with temperatures dropping overnight and dark clouds hovering above.

PRACTICE DEBRIEF: A Williams threat at Silverstone? Friday’s intriguing performance picture for the British Grand Prix

While the preceding F3 race took place in the wet, a break in the weather saw the track dry up sufficiently for slick tyres when F1 cars headed out – albeit with a 90% risk of further showers throughout the session.

Some 25 minutes in, the heavens duly opened again, putting an end to teams’ respective qualifying-style runs and effectively freezing the timesheets, with Red Bull the only team not to have made the move to the soft compound tyre.

Great Britain 2023

Practice 3 results

PositionTeam NameTime
1LEC1:27.419
2ALB+0.173s
3ALO+0.365s
4GAS+0.474s
5HAM+0.529s
View Full Results

It meant reigning double world champion Max Verstappen – who topped FP1 and FP2 – finished back in eighth position, with team mate Sergio Perez down in 14th, though they still gathered valuable data in the slippery, intermediate conditions that followed.

In the Red Bull drivers’ absence from the sharp end, it was Leclerc who posted the session’s benchmark with a 1m 27.419s on the red-marked rubber, making up for some of the mileage he lost after being sidelined by an electrical problem during second practice – adding the flourish of a spin after the chequered flag at Club corner for good measure.

READ MORE: Albon admits to some ‘head scratching’ at Williams after ‘unexpected’ practice display at Silverstone

Albon and Williams continued to impress with a run to P2, brushing off an electrical glitch to finish just 0.173s down on Leclerc, with Alonso another to get a soft-shod lap in just before the rain hit as he pipped Pierre Gasly’s Alpine and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, which began to show some more pace.

Carlos Sainz had led the early stages of the session but fell down to sixth amid a flurry of improvements, with Logan Sargeant an encouraging seventh in the other Williams, despite “crazy hot air” in the cockpit after “something blew off” his car, followed by the aforementioned Verstappen.

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Plenty of spray was kicked up as the rain arrived midway through the session

George Russell was ninth in the second of the Mercedes machines, just in front of AlphaTauri pair Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries, with Lando Norris 12th after an early incident that saw him stop at the end of the pit lane and then get helped on his way by a mechanic – the stewards set to investigate post-session.

Lance Stroll completed a lap on softs just as conditions were moving from dry to wet, leaving him 13th in his Aston Martin, ahead of Perez, the lead Haas of Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Ocon’s Alpine and Oscar Piastri’s McLaren.

READ MORE: Sainz says Ferrari have ‘homework to do’ despite strong pace as Leclerc expands on issue that kept him out of FP2

Alfa Romeo sat out the early stages of the session, meaning they missed the best of the weather conditions; but while Valtteri Bottas eventually emerged to complete a solid number of laps, team mate Zhou Guanyu was stuck in the pits amid apparent technical issues.

That left the Finn 18th and the Chinese racer at the foot of the order in 20th, with the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg – who, like Verstappen and Perez, did not get a representative time in on softs – slotting between them.

Drivers will now take a break before preparing for the all-important qualifying session at 1500 local time, with further mixed conditions expected. Head to the RACE HUB for more information on this weekend’s action at Silverstone.

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