Canadian GP: Lewis Hamilton fastest by four tenths from Max Verstappen in searing Practice Three for Mercedes | F1 News

Montreal specialist Lewis Hamilton set a searing pace to lead Max Verstappen by nearly four tenths of a second in a final practice session that appeared to offer Mercedes real hope of being contenders in Canadian GP qualifying.

Hamilton, the joint record-holder for wins at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve with seven – which includes his very-first in F1 in 2007 – had appeared noticeably upbeat about Mercedes prospects this weekend after the opening day’s action despite Friday’s running having been heavily compromised by rain.

The seven-time world champion is yet to qualify higher than seventh for a Grand Prix so far in 2024 amid his worst start to a season but, armed with the latest specification W15 front wing for the first time on Saturday, Hamilton caught the eye in the event’s first full, dry session with an impressive best lap of 1:12.549.

Red Bull rival Verstappen worked his way up to second by the end of the session after first running the soft tyre later than most, but the championship leader still finished a distant 0.374s back on the flying lead Mercedes and brushed the infamous ‘Wall of Champions’ – the circuit’s final corner – with his right-rear tyre in the session’s closing moments.

“The car looks good,” said Sky Sports F1’s Karun Chandhok of Hamilton’s Mercedes, a team who have also had several false dawns in practice sessions so far in their disappointing campaign.

“When you watch that on-board, it looks predictable, it looks like he can attack and hustle it. We haven’t seen that level of confidence form Lewis Hamilton for a while.”

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A groundhog stole the show during P3 as it was caught grazing dangerously close to the track!

After his RB20 suffered an Energy Recovery System fault on Friday, Red Bull meanwhile reverted to an older power unit for Verstappen for the remainder of the weekend.

Sergio Perez was only ninth in the second Red Bull.

Qualifying starts at 9pm live on Sky Sports F1 and Main Event, with build-up from 8pm, when a threat of rain is set to return in Montreal.

Underlining Mercedes’ apparent promise, George Russell finished third in the second W15 – albeit four tenths behind his team-mate – with Canada’s own Lance Stroll fourth for Aston Martin and Oscar Piastri the lead McLaren in fifth.

Monaco victors Ferrari have been many pundits’ tips to be the quickest package in Canada, but they struggled in final practice with Charles Leclerc finishing 10th and Carlos Sainz 12th.

“We are extremely slow,” said a concerned-sounding Leclerc over Ferrari team radio.

RB have hitherto impressed, however, with Daniel Ricciardo finishing final practice up in sixth place in a car that is quick in a straight line.

Lando Norris was seventh in the second McLaren, ahead of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, Red Bull’s Perez and Leclerc in the first of the Ferraris.

Teams rack up the laps but trouble for Zhou and Albon

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Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu had his second crash in two days during final practice at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Teams used the final hour of running before qualifying to make up for lost time after Friday’s two sessions were heavily compromised by intermittent rain.

With no shortage of new-slick-tyre sets left available as a result, the session was a busy one with teams racing to find the ideal set-up for their cars on what is an all-new track surface for this year.

For the second time in two days Zhou crashed his Sauber, causing a red flag.

The session was just six minutes old when Zhou lost control of the car going through the first chicane, spinning around and off the circuit into a rearwards impact with the barriers. It ended the Chinese driver’s session after just four laps.

“I have no idea what’s happened with the car,” said a perplexed-sounding Zhou on team radio.

“The car is so strange, man, it just locks up at the rear.”

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RB’s Alex Albon made contact with the Wall of Champions during P3 at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Later on, Alex Albon was the other driver to do noticeable damage to his car, the Williams driver hitting the Wall of Champions himself. He at least completed 22 laps, finishing up 18th fastest.

Sky Sports F1’s live Canadian GP schedule

Saturday June 8
8pm: Canadian GP Qualifying build-up
9pm: Canadian GP Qualifying
11pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

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A look back at some of the most dramatic moments from the Canadian Grand Prix.

Sunday June 9
5.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday – Canadian GP build-up
9pm: Chequered Flag – Canadian GP reaction
10pm: Ted’s Notebook

Formula 1 is on Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix and you can watch every session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this weekend live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday’s race at 7pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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