Verstappen and Leclerc dominate FP3; Sainz crashes

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On a confusing day that saw first practice essentially cancelled due to track CCTV system failures, second practice had to be extended to 90 minutes to make up for lost track time. Lewis Hamilton finished first in a Mercedes 1-2.

This session is crucial for teams like Alpine, Aston Martin and Williams, who brought significant upgrades to test in Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. However, the ever-present rain might be a challenge for getting valuable data.

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Ahead of the session, the rain stopped, but the air temp was just 14.5C; Haas was the first to take the plunge out of the pits. Additionally, it marks Nico Hulkenberg’s first time on the circuit since his engine blew out in second practice. He changed power units, but he won’t be penalised because it comes from his allotment.

George Russell, Fernando Alonso, and Logan Sargeant followed right after.

Considering the highly wet track, everyone is out on thoroughly wet tyres, as expected. Half of the field followed right after.

The first driver to report problems was George Russell, saying: “Bit of pulling to the left-hand side under braking,” as his Mercedes kept squirming under him.

Yuki Tsunoda had a couple of mistakes when he first held up Alonso at the hairpin earning a “Who’s the blind guy in the AlphaTauri?” from the Spanish two-time world champion. He managed to spin coming out of Turn 4 but missed either barrier.

At this point, all the drivers are on the wet circuit, with Max Verstappen topping the timesheet on wet tyres, and then Valterri Bottas set the fastest time on intermediates.

However, as the rain started to pick up, most drivers began to face problems with Alonso and Tsunoda sliding, unable to maintain the grip and temperature in the tyres.

Scary moments kept coming, with Gasly going straight on after locking up ahead of a chicane despite having full wets; then Albon said that a Ferrari impeded him; expressing his frustrations, he said:” As always, it’s dangerous for the Ferraris, all the time.”.

Only the two Alpines were on full wets despite the rain that kept going down at a steady level. Albon was impeded again by Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari; this time, it was noted by the stewards.

Later, the Spaniard lost the rear of his SF23 into Turn 1; he shot up directly over the run-off area, first hitting the front of the barriers, completely removing the nose, and then the rear. Now, that gearbox will cause concern. The team must rebuild the car to prepare it for qualifying quickly. The session is subsequently red-flagged.

As soon as the green flag was brought out to resume the session, Pierre Gasly was out on the intermediate; he was followed by Lewis Hamilton, who went straight on at Turn 1, saying, “Grip is very poor”; he managed to go back safely.

His teammate, George Russell, also reported problems with his brakes which were cold. Still, He reaches the top five today for the first time. The W14 hasn’t yet appeared as fast in the rain as it was on Friday, which might raise the question of it’s ability to heat tyres in the shower, a crucial problem that might show up more during the wet qualifying session.

Verstappen was in a league of his own as others were locked up and struggled. Sergio Perez had an uneventful practice too, but he was 3-seconds far from his teammate. With seven seconds left, everyone except Charles Leclerc has decided to pit due to the severe rain. Therefore the session stopped early, giving us a glimpse into the mixed grid we might have after qualifying.