Hamilton well clear ahead of Verstappen in Canada’s dry FP3

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in final practice for the Canadian Grand Prix, leading Max Verstappen by nearly 0.4s as teams finally got significant dry running.

After the rain-affected two sessions on Friday, there was a threat of rain and gusty winds for the drivers to deal with Saturday, as well as a low-grip track, but the entire session could take place on slicks ahead of qualifying. Hamilton set the pace with a 1m12.549s, leading Verstappen by 0.374s as Mercedes enjoyed a strong start to Saturday with George Russell just 0.034s further back in third.

Verstappen’s time did also come after he touched the concrete at the Wall of Champions finishing his lap, as he didn’t look completely comfortable after missing much of FP2 with an ERS issue.


The initial stages of the session already saw Verstappen having to catch a snap of oversteer at the final chicane — taking to the run-off as a result — and complain about the steering feeling “super weird for me” so far during the weekend, before Zhou Guanyu brought out another red flag.

The Stake driver understeered into the wall at Turn 5 on Friday, and on this occasion he lost the rear in odd fashion exiting Turn 1, in a spin he said was caused by the rears unexpectedly locking. The car went backwards into the barrier and appeared to have damaged the rear wing, but potentially have been drivable back to the pits. Unfortunately the car was beached on uneven grass and the rear wheels spun in the air, forcing him to climb out.

When running resumed, Russell had an off-track excursion at Turn 9, as did Logan Sargeant, while there were close calls for drivers dealing with traffic, including when Sargeant opted to try and pass a McLaren on the inside heading towards the final chicane and miscommunication almost led to contact.

Sargeant still ended the session ahead of his Williams teammate Alex Albon, however, as Albon — who also went off at Turn 9 — hit the Wall of Champions harder than Verstappen and damaged his right rear.

Traffic played a role in a number of drivers not getting a totally clean lap on soft tires, with Sergio Perez down in ninth ahead of Charles Leclerc in tenth and Carlos Sainz 12th, but the first two of that trio were still just 0.4s off Verstappen’s time in a congested top ten.

Lance Stroll was fourth quickest — nearly half a second off Hamilton — ahead of Oscar Piastri and Daniel Ricciardo, with Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso rounding out the top eight. Under 0.1s covered fifth to tenth.

While the running gave Mercedes a boost in dry conditions, Hamilton was confident they were closer to the front on Friday too. There is still the unknown of weather factoring in to qualifying — the forecast involves a high chance of thunderstorms bringing rain later in the afternoon in Montreal.

Story originally appeared on Racer