Hamilton edges out Verstappen and Vettel in FP3


To paraphrase the Orange Juice song, today it appears to be a case of 'ripping it up and starting again'.

With both of yesterday's sessions hit by the weather, especially the all-important second session, today the teams effectively start from scratch as they prepare for a dry qualifying and dry race.

Indeed, though there were forecasts of rain this morning, the sky is blue and while there are a few ominous clouds in the distance we do not expect a repeat of yesterday. That said, Race Control claims a 60% chance of rain, which, should it happen, will definitely cause the teams more problems this afternoon and tomorrow.

Air temperature is 24.7 degrees C, while the track temperature is 43.6 degrees.

Due to an engine failure during the F2 race earlier, the marshals have laid down cement dust at Turn 4. Unfortunately, they appear to have gone berserk, for the track is covered in it and as a result there is a ten minute delay to the start of the session. As the session cannot be extended, this means the driver will only have 50 minutes of running, which is bad news for all as the drivers already have a lot of catching up to do.

The Silvers Arrows head the queue at the end of the pitlane for the start of the session, however, as the pair perform their practice starts a number of drivers, including Grosjean, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi and Magnussen pass them.

As they drive over the cement dust, a great cloud fills the air.

"Lando, the dust coming off the track is incredible, that's the only way to describe it."

Grosjean posts a 24.689 and his teammate a 24.732 to get things underway.

As Norris posts 20.037, Ferrari and Red Bull prefer to wait until the dust has settled, so to speak.

Clearly feeling they are not going to get any decent running at this stage, both Mercedes drivers pit, having completed two laps apiece without posting a time.

As Sainz looks to improve on second (19.258), teammate Norris goes quickest in the first two sectors, finally crossing the line at 18.706.

The Ferrari duo head out, Leclerc leading the way, both are on softs. Quickest of the medium runners is Hulkenberg in sixth.

"I hope the track is really bad because I've got no grip," says Magnussen.

Perez splits the McLarens with an 18.960.

Leclerc crosses the line at 18.228, losing time in the final corner as Kubica was just ahead.

Vettel is quickest in all three sectors, crossing the line at 17.435.

An 18.373 sees Gasly go fourth, 0.938s down on Vettel.

Clearly none the worse for his crash yesterday, straight out of the box Albon goes third with an 18.311.

The Mercedes pair head out again, leaving Verstappen as the only 'no show'.

Bottas appears to be overdriving the car, nonetheless he is quickest in S2, finally crossing the line at 17.669 to go third.

As Hamilton begins his first flying lap, dark clouds are closing in.

Hamilton goes third with a 17.643. Incidentally, Gasly's time was posted on mediums.

Vettel consolidates his top spot with a 17.330.

Verstappen, on softs, begins his first flying lap of the day. 77.750 seconds later he crosses the line to go fifth.

"What am I doing wrong in Turn 11?" asks Sainz. "Slowing the car too early," he is told.

A 17.051 sees Hamilton go top, 0.210s clear of his teammate who takes second.

PBs in all three sectors see Verstappen go top, the Dutchman crossing the line at 17.035.

"I don't know what's going on, the braking is completely different," reports Albon. "I'm locking everything."

Magnussen improves to sixth with a 17.840, the Dane posting PBs in all three sectors.

In the Mercedes garage, a change of front wing for Hamilton. Not sure why, but we saw a number of front wings damaged yesterday after running over the kerbs.

Hulkenberg reports that his car is pulling to the right on the straights.

With twenty minutes remaining, it's: Verstappen, Hamilton, Norris, Bottas, Vettel, Leclerc, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Gasly and Giovinazzi.

As the qualifying sims begin, Verstappen posts 16.647, but this is soon beaten by Leclerc (16.604), Bottas (16.489) and Hamilton (16.339).

Vettel posts a PB in S1 of his flyer, maintaining the pace in the second sector. At the line the German posts 16.885 to go fifth. The German doesn't look at all comfortable with the car.

Verstappen improves to second with a 16.474.

"Different car when compared to before," says Vettel.

Leclerc goes quickest in S2, the youngster subsequently crossing the line at 16.392, just 0.053s off Hamilton's pace.

Vettel begins another flying lap on his softs. Though he's up in S1 he loses pace in the second sector. He fails to improve, clearly unhappy with the balance of the SF90.

"Steering doesn't feel very symmetric," says Hulkenberg, "much lighter in right-hand corners than left-hand corners."

Behind the 'big three', Norris is best of the rest, ahead of Sainz, Magnussen, and Raikkonen. Stroll, Albon and Kvyat are at the other end of the timesheets keeping the Williams duo company.

Verstappen and Hamilton head out on brand new softs. Leclerc also.

Verstappen locks-up in Turn 1, which compromises his lap from the outset. That said, he goes quickest in S2, and again in S3, finally crossing the line at 16.097 to go top.

Vettel goes quickest in S1, however with all 20 drivers on track he has traffic to worry about. He posts a PB in S2, finally crossing the line at 16.166 to go second, 0.069s off the pace.

Hamilton aborts his flying lap and pits, heading out again moments later on fresh rubber.

At the first split the Briton is 0.055s up on Verstappen. However, he's 0.042s down at the second split. At the line the world champion posts 16.084 to go quickest by 0.013s.

The top three, Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel are covered by just 0.082s.

The session ends. Quickest is Hamilton, ahead of Verstappen, Vettel, Bottas, Leclerc, Gasly, Norris, Raikkonen, Sainz and Magnussen.

Grosjean is eleventh, ahead of Kvyat, Hulkenberg, Perez, Giovinazzi, Ricciardo, Albon, Russell, Stroll and Kubica.

The Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari all clearly have different strong and weak sectors, and with the top three covered by just 0.082s we should be in for a thrilling qualifying.

Check out our Saturday gallery from the Hungaroring, here.

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Published: 03/08/2019
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