Mercedes stole a march on its rivals in Saturday’s third and final practice which unfolded on a wet track and with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton dominating the tricky proceedings.

The performance bodes well for the British pair for qualifying if conditions remain unchanged, although McLaren’s Lando Norris was just 0.185s behind Russell.

There was over a half of a second gap between Norris and fourth-placed man Carlos Sainz, the Ferrari charger heading Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and teammate Charles Leclerc who capped the top six.

Times to follow…

Heavy rain on Saturday morning and standing water out on the track led to everyone kicking off the final dress rehearsal on Pirelli’s intermediate tyres, while forecasts did not bode well for a dry qualifying this afternoon.

While the rain had abated, the damp track and chilly summer temperatures sat at just 11°C required sharp skills to keep out of harm’s way.

Just minutes into the session, Alpine’s Pierre Gasly proved that point when he clumsily skidded off and beached his A524 into the gravel trap at Vale, his morning done.

As a reminder, the French driver will start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid, regardless of where he qualifies, following a complete power unit overhaul undertaken by Alpine.

Drivers were still in discovery mode when more light rain moved in 15 minutes into the running, and with RB’s Yuki Tsunoda sitting at the top of the so far irrelevant timing screens.

However, the sheer amount of traffic continued to dry the racing line, allowing drivers to improve their pace, albeit very slightly.

Hamilton moved to the top but was quickly bettered by Verstappen and then Leclerc. But the Mercedes driver was able to dip into the 1m39s to reclaim the lead.

Lap by lap, a dry line started to emerge but anything else than inters was still out of the question. But changes at the top were fast and furious as the track evolved.

Russell and Hamilton spent several laps trading fastest times, but intensifying rain looked to put a halt to improvements.

Norris, Sainz and Verstappen were next in line behind the Mercedes pair, but everyone pushing on it appeared to suggest that the soggy weather was here to stay. So, better to be prepared than not.

Thus, the session ended with no further changes at the sharp end of the field but with plenty of wet running data to pour over in the event of a wet qualifying or race day.

Norris in third was just 0.185s adrift from Russell, but there was almost a full second between the Briton and his McLaren teammate Oscar Piastri, as there was between Verstappen and Sergio Perez over at Red Bull.

Given Mercedes’ dominant performance, the Brackley squad’s fans will hoping for more adverse weather this afternoon for qualifying.

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