Canadian GP 2024

JUNE 8, 2024

Practice 3 Report - Hamilton sets the pace

Lewis Hamilton
© Mercedes

The final practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix saw Lewis Hamilton setting a blistering pace on a fully dry track after two mixed sessions on Friday. The Mercedes driver, who has been in top form from the start of the weekend, completed a strong long run early in the session. Using two sets of Soft tires, like most of his peers, Hamilton ended the session 0.374 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen. With George Russell in third place, both Mercedes drivers are using the new front wing on the W15, the team seemed poised to fight at the front for the first time this season.

For Max Verstappen, P2 was a positive outcome, but the Dutchman had reasons for concern. The brand new power unit he ran on Friday was removed from his car after an ERS issue halted him early in FP2. Verstappen is now running with an old unit for the rest of the weekend. To add to his woes, he clipped the wall on the outside of the last corner at the end of FP3. The team now faces the task of ensuring his car is ready for qualifying, possibly necessitating a precautionary gearbox change. The RB20’s handling over kerbs remains a challenge, as shown by Verstappen’s incident and Sergio Pérez’s defensive driving in the last chicane. Pérez finished in ninth place, 0.4 seconds behind his teammate.

While Mercedes has been the positive surprise of the weekend, Ferrari heads into qualifying with much work to do. Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz complained about their car’s performance. Leclerc, in particular, lost almost 0.3 seconds to his rivals in the first two corners alone. He expressed dissatisfaction with the brakes on his SF-23, noting that the car pulled to the right under braking and lacked stopping power. Sainz managed to close the gap to his teammate on his final lap, but it was only good enough for P12. The Monaco Grand Prix winner, Leclerc, was a disappointed tenth quickest.

As has become usual, Aston Martin was competitive in practice, often running a lighter fuel load than its rivals. Lance Stroll, the home driver, was fourth quickest, faster than his teammate Fernando Alonso, who was down in P8. The two McLarens are expected to be faster in qualifying, with Oscar Piastri in fifth place, marginally faster than Lando Norris, who finished seventh. Both drivers still struggled slightly under braking for the last chicane, as they did on Friday.

Daniel Ricciardo had a very positive session, finishing sixth and splitting the two McLarens. Yuki Tsunoda, on the other hand, was unhappy with his car’s balance, citing understeer and a general lack of grip, which prevented him from completing a clean lap and dropped him to P15.

Zhou Guanyu caused the second red flag of the weekend by spinning and lightly touching the wall in Turn 2 at the start of the session. The Chinese driver will enter qualifying with only 25 laps done all weekend, just one in fully dry conditions. Alex Albon, like Verstappen, also touched the Wall of Champions. Although he managed to bring his Williams back to the pits, repairs were needed, ending his session ten minutes early.

As the teams prepare for qualifying, Mercedes appears strong, Red Bull grapples with reliability issues, Ferrari seeks more speed, and several other teams look competitive. The stage is set for an exciting qualifying session in Montreal.