FP3: Leclerc heads rain-hit session in Germany

Charles Leclerc (MON) Alfa Romeo Sauber C37 at Formula One World Championship, Rd11, German Grand

Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc topped Saturday’s final practice session in Germany, which saw heavy rain fall throughout the 60 minutes at Hockenheim – with only nine drivers setting lap times as a result...

Leclerc, heading an F1 session for the first time in his career, finished four-tenths up on team mate Marcus Ericsson and seven-tenths ahead of Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin to complete an unlikely looking top three ahead of qualifying.

Most of the field ventured out early on for one or more exploratory laps, and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg even briefly tried the intermediate rather than the full wet tyres. The German was the first – and for a long time the only – man to get a time on the board.

Once team mate Carlos Sainz had spun in the slippery conditions around 13 minutes in, it became clear that the common approach throughout the pit lane would be to sit tight and conserve tyres in case qualifying and the race also turn out to be wet.

Only in the final quarter of the hour did we see more action as the drivers chose to get some more mileage in amid the considerable amount of standing water. Several ran wide, no one hit anything and it was Leclerc who skilfully guided his way to the top of the time sheet.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel - who ran off at the hairpin - and Kimi Raikkonen were the only frontrunners to set lap times, in fourth and eighth respectively, while no one’s lap count got into double figures. Lewis Hamilton’s stood at two, after Mercedes had brushed off rumours that the world champion was ill and might not appear.

So perhaps not the most exciting of sessions, but with conditions expected to remain wet for qualifying we should be in for a thrilling duel for pole position!



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