Lewis Hamilton took control of the third day of Silverstone testing, providing a dominant performance for the thousands of fans who turned out to see him and beating his nearest challenger by more than half a second.
“Driving into Silverstone this morning felt really cool. I couldn’t believe how many fans were at the track so early in the morning,” said Hamilton after delighting the home contingent in the 10,000-strong crowd with a 1:19.170 fastest lap.
“They’re pretty special, the most dedicated F1 supporters in the world. Whilst I couldn’t say ‘hi’ to all of them, their support always gives me a special lift.”
But if Hamilton was smoking hot in testing, Red Bull’s David Coulthard was merely smoking. After losing most of the day to repair work following a bash from Timo Glock, he finally got to work – only to come to a halt after four laps with clouds coming from his engine.
Glock, who apologised to Coulthard for not having seen him in time, had an otherwise productive day and set the second-fastest time behind Hamilton. The were the only two drivers in the one minute 19s – behind them, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso were the only two in the one minute 20s.
DC – having never really got going – was slowest, behind Nick Heidfeld, Kazuki Nakajima, Adrian Sutil, Rubens Barrichello and Sebastien Bourdais.
Hamilton was happy with the outcome of his 88 laps: “Today’s test was really encouraging. The changes we’ve made have really improved the car which feels strong around here. I can’t wait to be racing in front of my home crowd again.”
Coulthard had been planning to work on tyre comparison until, as his team laconically noted, “Timo Glock’s Toyota decided to attack David as they went through Stowe”. Later, a gearbox problem also delayed him.
He said: “Over the previous two days, when Mark was driving, the team had come up with some interesting results and I was keen to validate them today.
“Unfortunately I did not get much running and, as the high-speed nature of Silverstone means it helps to get your eye in, I will be slightly on the back foot going into practice for the British Grand Prix.
“But I think that, as a team, we are strong enough to deal with that, so I hope to have a good home race.”
Glock called the accident a misunderstanding: “When I turned in at the end of the Hangar Straight David was there. I just didn’t see him so I apologise for that.”
Over at Honda, Jenson Button handed over to Rubens Barrichello for the final day of testing and the Brazilian was optimistic that he could feel improvements from the team’s new aero package.
Button added: “We had a good two days in Silverstone this week and it felt great to be back driving here. Silverstone is one of the only fast and flowing circuits left, along with Spa and Suzuka, and I absolutely love it.
“Our focus this week was to evaluate the new aero parts that we will have on the car for the forthcoming races. We’ve found some improvements, even in the windy conditions that we had on the second day, and I’m happy with the direction that we have taken.
“I have a few days of training now and after that I’m looking forward to my home race in front of a sell-out crowd.”
Timesheet for day three:
- Lewis Hamilton, McLaren: 1:19.170 (88 laps)
- Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:19.815 (79 laps)
- Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: 1:20.321 (60 laps)
- Fernando Alonso, Renault: 1:20.862 (78 laps)
- Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber,: 1:21.011 (93 laps)
- Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:21.059 (70 laps)
- Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:21.331 (71 laps)
- Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:21.344 (94 laps)
- Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:21.432 (76 laps)
- David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:22.232 (30 laps)