Formula 1

Bottas Leads Mercedes 1-2 in Final Practice

3 Mins read
Credit: Daimler AG/Steve Etherington

Normal service was resumed in Hungary during Free Practice 3 ahead of the 2020 Formula 1 Aramco Magyar Nagydíj with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team grabbing the top two spots at the end of the hour. Championship leader Valtteri Bottas topped the tables in the final third of a session which ran green from start to finish. His team mate Lewis Hamilton, only 0.042 seconds behind from an early quick time, took second.

In fact about the only blight to the Mercedes session was a heart in mouth moment for the reigning champion after the chequered flag. The Britton was returning to the pits and nearly lost control of his #44 W10 EQ Power + in the pit entry. With just two hours to go until qualifying, the team is fortunate that Hamilton was able to wrest the slide and enter the pit lane safely.

That incident at the dying of the session was one of only three really notable events during the hour of running. That being remarkable in itself after a morning of clean-up around the circuit. Overnight circuit maintenance caused problems as one of the track vehicles dropped HGV engine oil on the racing surface, which was later exacerbated by F3 engine oil from an early race today. Large amounts of quick-dry cement made the going tricky early on.

Still, the drivers didn’t actually struggle with the dust, instead it was unforced errors which punctuated the 60 minutes. First Max Verstappen‘s Aston Martin Red Bull Racing machine rotated in the second sector of the lap, a snap of oversteer which was beyond anyone to catch. The Dutchman would later wrestle his RB16 under control in the penultimate corner from a similar snap in the dying laps of the session with neither incident causing damage.

Nicholas Latifi for Williams Racing was the other driver to have a serious moment during the hour, dropping the car in turn 1. The FW43 was left pointing the wrong way and Latifi was fortunate of the run off when he had to turn the car round. Again, no damage was caused but the #6 machine didn’t raise attention again all session and ended the hour in 20th.

Ferrari to the Fore Early On

The opening of the session actually held some hope for fans of Scuderia Ferrari, both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel posting times which put them at the top of the table. It wasn’t to be though and despite improvements which showed promise, the two SF1000s dropped back as the session developed. Leclerc mounted a late resergence to take fourth at the end of the hour, Vettel languished in 8th with both Scuderia AlphaTuari Honda and Renault DP World Formula One Team snapping at his heels.

As became the pattern in Austria, it was Red Bull and BWT Racing Point Formula One Team who took what fight they had to the Mercedes ahead. Verstappen and Alexander Albon both set quick times for the Honda powered outfit while Sergio Perez once again took centre stage for Racing Point. As the session developed further Lance Stroll moved forward too, so that all that stopped Mercedes powered domination of the top four places was the lonely Ferrari of Leclerc in fourth.

After downplaying expectations on Friday, McLaren F1 Team once again shined at the hands of British driver Lando Norris. The current 3rd place title contender managed 7th behind Verstappen but was over 0.150 seconds clear of multiple champion Vettel who continued a troubled season to 8th. Pierre Gasly took ninth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo‘s Renault which rounded out the top ten.

The only other event of real note in the hour was the rise of George Russell to the top five early on. The Williams Racing driver showed great pace early on but as the session sped up, he dropped down the order and ended the non-competitive running in 14th place.

Attention now turns to qualifying, which could be interesting as dark clouds where gathering throughout the final practice session. Weather held off and the entire hour was conducted in the dry but rain could well be on the way when the Formula 1 cars return to the track at 14:00 BST today.

Free Practice 3 Classification

Pos.#DriverNat.TeamTimeGapLaps
177Valtteri BottasFINMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:15.43718
244Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:15.479+0.042s20
311Sergio PérezMEXBWT Racing Point Formula One Team1:15.598+0.161s16
416Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari1:15.781+0.344s19
518Lance StrollCANBWT Racing Point Formula One Team1:16.033+0.596s15
633Max VerstappenNEDAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:16.084+0.647s18
74Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team1:16.193+0.756s18
85Sebastian VettelGERScuderia Ferrari1:16.351+0.914s18
910Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:16.453+1.016s20
103Daniel RicciardoAUSRenault DP World F1 Team1:16.508+1.071s14
1155Carlos SainzESPMcLaren F1 Team1:16.545+1.108s21
1223Alexander AlbonTHAAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:16.582+1.145s19
1331Esteban OconFRARenault DP World F1 Team1:16.706+1.269s20
1463George RussellGBRWilliams Racing1:16.847+1.410s23
158Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas F1 Team1:16.866+1.429s15
1620Jan MagnussenDENHaas F1 Team1:17.086+1.649s14
1726Danil KvyatRUSScuderia AlphaTauri Honda1:17.292+1.855s15
1899Antionio GiovinazziITAAlfa Romeo Racing1:17.496+2.059s20
197Kimi RaikkonenFINAlfa Romeo Racing1:17.527+2.090s25
206Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing1:17.650+2.213s17
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