Scuderia Ferrari continued its domination of practice at the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel sweeping to another 1-2 result in Saturday’s final practice session.
The major headline of the session, however, was a heavy crash for championship leader Lewis Hamilton which will see his Mercedes-AMG team in a race against time to repair his car in time for qualifying.
Hamilton showed that even the best drivers are mere mortals when he crashed heavily at the Fagnes sweeps after running too wide onto the kerbs at their approach. He lost the back end of his car and fought to regain control of the slide before slamming into the tyre apron. While he fortunately emerged unscathed, the same could not be said for his car which sustained significant damage on the front-left corner.
Mercedes confirmed that it would work to replace the car’s damaged parts, namely both front corners (suspension and wheel assemblies), nose, barge boards and floor.
Hamilton’s crash occurred just over halfway through the one-hour session, triggering a 16-minute red flag interruption so his car could be retrieved and returned to the pits.
The Englishman had managed just four laps in the session at that stage, but it was already apparent that neither he nor teammate Valtteri Bottas had the outright pace to challenge the Ferraris. Bottas finished the session third-fastest, almost half a second slower than Leclerc, while Hamilton was shuffled down to seventh on the timesheets thanks to quicker laps by other drivers.
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo claimed a surprise P4 at the end of the session, outpacing former teammate Max Verstappen in the Red Bull Racing Honda. Having reverted to an older-spec Mercedes engine after his upgraded motor failed in FP2, Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez continued his impressive form this weekend by placing sixth-fastest.
The top-ten was completed by Alfa Romeo Racing duo Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi, with Toro Rosso returnee Pierre Gasly a confidence-boosting tenth-fastest following an indifferent run in Friday’s two practice sessions.
The man who replaced him at Red Bull Racing, Alexander Albon, propped up the bottom of the timesheets. The Anglo-Thai driver, who will start from the back of the grid thanks to engine change penalties, concentrated on fine-tuning his race set-up and posted a fastest lap over six seconds off Leclerc’s ultimate pace.
|FORMULA 1 JOHNNIE WALKER BELGIAN GRAND PRIX 2019 – FREE PRACTICE SESSION 3|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:44.206||9|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF90||1:44.657||+ 0.451||12|
|3.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:44.703||+ 0.497||11|
|4.||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:44.974||+ 0.768||10|
|5.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:45.312||+ 1.106||11|
|6.||Sergio Pérez||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:45.521||+ 1.315||12|
|7.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes-AMG Motorsport W10||1:45.566||+ 1.360||4|
|8.||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:45.659||+ 1.453||13|
|9.||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing C38||1:45.688||+ 1.482||13|
|10.||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:45.752||+ 1.546||15|
|11.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:45.806||+ 1.600||15|
|12.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault F1 Team RS19||1:45.855||+ 1.649||11|
|13.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team VF-19||1:46.004||+ 1.798||15|
|14.||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:46.017||+ 1.811||14|
|15.||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team MCL34||1:46.270||+ 2.064||13|
|16.||Lance Stroll||Racing Point F1 Team RP19||1:46.379||+ 2.173||11|
|17.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda STR14||1:46.642||+ 2.436||13|
|18.||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:47.858||+ 3.652||14|
|19.||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing FW42||1:48.350||+ 4.144||14|
|20.||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing RB15||1:50.681||+ 6.475||14|
Image via Formula1.com