FP3: Hamilton tops the final practice as Mercedes regains its form

By on
F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit de Spa-Francorchampsbe

After allowing Max Verstappen to top FP2, Mercedes regained its form in the third and final practice for the Belgian Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton setting the pace ahead of the qualifying session.

Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were quick to head out on to the 7.004 km track to make up for the lost time after both of them were fored to sit out the majority of the first and second free practice sessions. The Dane was the quicker of the duo by setting a time of 1m45.984 on the Hard compound, just over two tenths faster than his team mate.

Folllowing the six-lap stints of the Haas duo, it started to drizzle, forcing drivers to stay in the garages. When the conditions began to improve, many drivers were keen to head out on to the track. On his hard tyre, Red Bull’s Alexander Albon posted a time of 1m45.092 to jump to the front of the leaderboard.

He was, however, quickly denied by Valtteri Bottas with the Finn setting a time of 1m43.813 on the red-walled soft Pirelli rubber. Max Verstappen used the same compound to set the second fastest time, just 0.033s off the pace.

In the meantime, Ferrari continued where it left off yesterday, struggling with tyre temperatures. After the first runs, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were in 12th and 15th positions.

The Scuderia was the first to hit the track on the second fresh set of tyres, but both Leclerc and Vettel were forced to abandon their run and pit at the end of their warm-up lap as it started to rain intensively. Haas driver Kevin Magnussen managed to get a good lap under his belt before the rain intensified, setting a time of 1m44.841 on the soft compound.

Drivers were waiting in the garages, but the conditions started to improve. With nine minutes to go, everyone rolled out onto the track to simulate the qualifying conditions with only Magnussen staying in the garage as he already completed his last flying lap.

Setting a time in the middle sector that was almost a second quicker than the second best, Lewis Hamilton flew to the top. The Briton’s 1m43.255 has been the fastest so far over the weekend. Renault continued to impress with Ocon setting the second fastest time ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Valtteri Bottas failed to set a meaniningful lap time at the end as he encountered heavy traffic on his warm-up lap. The previous pace-setter, Max Verstappen also failed to post a better time than his previous one due to traffic issues.

Ferrari drivers could hardly find any time gain on the fresh set of soft with Leclerc ending up 17th fastest while Vettel posting the slowest time in the final practice. The poor result was partly down to the warm-up lap chaos as neither Ferrari driver could generate enough temperatures into their tyres.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:43.255-9
231Esteban OconRENAULT1:43.485+0.230s9
34Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT1:43.641+0.386s12
423Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA1:43.731+0.476s13
577Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:43.813+0.558s9
633Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA1:43.896+0.641s10
73Daniel RicciardoRENAULT1:43.973+0.718s8
818Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:43.988+0.733s12
955Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT1:44.006+0.751s13
1011Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:44.180+0.925s12
1110Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI HONDA1:44.508+1.253s14
1226Daniil KvyatALPHATAURI HONDA1:44.543+1.288s14
136Nicholas LatifiWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:44.771+1.516s11
1420Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:44.841+1.586s10
158Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:44.844+1.589s16
167Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:44.932+1.677s11
1716Charles LeclercFERRARI1:45.147+1.892s12
1863George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:45.157+1.902s11
1999Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:45.190+1.935s13
205Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:45.420+2.165s12