FP3: Advantage Ferrari as Vettel leads 1-2 in Montreal
The final session before qualifying for the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix saw Ferrari stretch the advantage they enjoyed in Free Practice 2 on Friday, with Sebastian Vettel finishing P1, 0.139s ahead of team mate Charles Leclerc and nearly four-tenths clear of Lewis Hamilton’s best effort for Mercedes.
Some blistering pace from the Ferraris saw the red cars become the first to lap Montreal’s Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in under 1m 11s, with Vettel managing to extend the life of his soft tyres to set his fastest lap on his third push lap on his second set.
Behind the Ferraris, Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were line astern for Mercedes in third and fourth – Hamilton making up for lost time after his crash in FP2 yesterday – with the two Red Bulls also pairing up behind them in fifth and sixth, Max Verstappen heading Pierre Gasly by under a tenth.
Worryingly for Red Bull, Verstappen was almost exactly a second away from Vettel’s pace, with Daniel Ricciardo just two-tenths back for Renault in a solid-looking P7, with the similarly Renault-powered McLaren of Lando Norris – who yesterday chastised himself for driving poorly – at close quarters in P8.
Sergio Perez gave the ‘home’ team Racing Point something to cheer about by going P9, while Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top 10 for Toro Rosso.
Less pleased will have been Alfa Romeo, meanwhile, with Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen well matched but down in P15 and P16, over six-tenths off Ricciardo’s leading midfield time.
Lance Stroll has an entire grandstand dedicated to him at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve this weekend. But his home fans barely got to see their hero, with the Canadian suffering a hydraulic leak 24 minutes into the session that saw flames erupting dramatically out of the back of his Racing Point RP19 – and leaving question marks over whether the damage can be fixed ahead of qualifying.
With no time set by Stroll, he finished last, behind the two Williams of George Russell and Robert Kubica, the latter a winner here back in 2008.
So, it’s Ferrari with the upper hand as qualifying approaches. And with theirs and Mercedes’ superior pace going into qualifying, expect to see attempts by both teams to make it through the second segment of qualifying on the more robust medium tyre – before what’s set to be a fascinating duel between them in Q3.