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The drab conditions on Friday had been replaced by bright sunshine and a cool breeze for the beginning of FP3, and the majority of drivers went out on the hard compound tire at the start of the session.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.