Rosberg closes out practice quickest at Silverstone

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Nico Rosberg has continued his good form at the British Grand Prix by finishing quickest in the final free practice session at Silverstone on Friday. The German driver edged out teammate Lewis Hamilton in the final runs, optimizing the pace of the W04 on the option tire.

The drab conditions on Friday had been replaced by bright sunshine and a cool breeze for the beginning of FP3, and the majority of drivers went out on the hard compound tire at the start of the session. Kimi Raikkonen posted the first benchmark time of 1:34.367, but this was soon beaten by Valtteri Bottas, Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez. However, the Mexican driver’s session came to a rather abrupt stop after his tire failed on the exit of Copse, causing severe damage to the underside of his MP4-28 and warranting a red flag. When the session did resume, hard tires were still the order of the day as Daniel Ricciardo and Paul di Resta once again ran strongly in P2 and P3, but Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel seemed to struggle down in P19 and P20.

With around half of the session complete, Lewis Hamilton gave his home fans something to shout about by going P1 for Mercedes, with Rosberg joining him at the head of the field in P2. Felipe Massa was the first medium runner, but the Ferrari driver could not exercise the advantage though, only going 7th with his first flying lap whilst his teammate, Fernando Alonso, moved into P4 on the hard tire.

The low levels of grip were evident with Alonso, Vettel, di Resta and Maldonado all made mistakes. Meanwhile, Hamilton and Webber became embroiled in a battle for P1, trading fastest times with just over fifteen minutes of the session to run. They, like the rest of the field, duly opted to pit in order to complete a qualifying simulation run on the softer medium tire in the final few minutes of the session. A surprise returnee was Sergio Perez, with the floor on his McLaren fixed and a fresh set of option tires fitted, only to spin his McLaren on the entry to the Hangar Straight. Further forward, Vettel began to show his pace to move into P3, but it was Rosberg who posted the fastest time on his final lap to go P1 just ahead of teammate Hamilton.

Once again, Mercedes look imperious over a single lap, but Rosberg’s long-run pace in practice still causes question over the prospect of a Silver Arrow winning the race on Sunday.

F1 2017 driver review: Carlos Sainz Jr.

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Carlos Sainz Jr.

Teams: Scuderia Toro Rosso (1-16), Renault (17-20)
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P4 (Singapore)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 54
Championship Position: 9th

Carlos Sainz Jr. has always been compared to Max Verstappen given their relative rise and stint together at Toro Rosso, but the Spaniard began to forge his own impressive path through 2017, securing himself a works drive with Renault in the process.

Alongside the struggling Daniil Kvyat for much of the season, Sainz led Toro Rosso’s charge, scoring 48 of its 53 points with a string of impressive drives. His headline moment came in Singapore when he matched Verstappen’s best result in Toro Rosso colors by finishing fourth, capitalizing on the start-line crash and the wet weather with a strong display.

Sainz’s displays led to a call from Renault, who announced just two days before his star display in Singapore he would be joining up for 2018 on loan from Red Bull. However, the deal was accelerated after a deal was brokered to secure Jolyon Palmer’s departure, allowing Sainz to join up from the United States GP onwards.

Sainz made an immediate impression, completing a perfect race en route to seventh on debut for Renault to secure six points that would prove crucial in the final constructors’ championship standings as the French team beat Toro Rosso to P6 in the standings at the last race of the year.

Red Bull retains an option on Sainz’s future beyond 2018, making him a candidate for a seat with its senior team should Daniel Ricciardo opt to leave. Failing that, Renault could offer Sainz the platform he needs to continue his rapid rise in F1 and establish himself at the front of the pack for many years to come.

Season High: Finishing fourth in Singapore after dodging the start-line drama.

Season Low: Crashing out in his final Toro Rosso appearance on the first lap at Suzuka.