FP3: Hamilton quickest, Vettel slowest on pace

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton 44

Lewis Hamilton 44

Lewis Hamilton won the battle of the traffic jam to claim P1 in FP3 at Spa while Sebastian Vettel had no pace, finishing P20.

Laying down the laps in what could possibly be the final dry session of the weekend, Kevin Magnussen opened the scoring with a 1:45.9 with Romain Grosjean clocking a 1:46.2. Haas will be hoping Friday’s engine woes are a thing of the past with the team-mates covering all of 27 laps the entire day.

Magnussen and Grosjean were the only two setting times in the first 20 minutes, covering six laps apiece, as the rest of the field waited for the track to rubber in following heavy overnight rain.

20 minutes in and it became a mad dash to get out onto the track with all but four drivers taking to the track in the space of two minutes. Alexander Albon immediately beat the Haas drivers’ times before he too was dropped by, you guessed it, the Mercedes team-mates.

Valtteri Bottas, running the soft tyres, went quickest with a 1:43.8 with Lewis Hamilton sliding into second, 0.6s down on his team-mate. Max Verstappen split the W11s, 0.083s slower than Bottas’ best.

After a cool down lap Hamilton tried again. Although he upped his pace, he stayed third. Halfway through the session Sergio Perez was fourth ahead of Esteban Ocon and Lando Norris.

Ferrari were again having a difficult day with Charles Leclerc down in 13th place and Sebastian Vettel even further back in 17th.

The Scuderia was again losing time in the middle sector with Leclerc 1.6s on Bottas in sector 2. Given that he was only 1.8s adrift of the Finn overall, it highlighted how far down on horse power Ferrari is.

Daniil Kvyat was having issues with his brakes, reporting to AlphaTauri that he “cannot attack” because his brakes are “poor”. He was 11th, make that 12th as his team-mate Pierre Gasly climbed to fifth place.

A few drops of rain began to fall with 20 minutes to go but five minutes later the drizzle had dissapated. Welcome to Spa!

The drivers, however, still stayed in their respective garages until one by one they can out with eight minutes remaining in the session. All of them, with most doing slow out-laps causing a traffic jam and drivers near the back to come to a near standstill.

“OMG, what a joke” was George Russell’s assessment.

Esteban Ocon hit the front in the Renault with a 1:43.4 but that was soon beaten by Hamilton with a 1:43.2. Bottas and Verstappen both had traffic issues.

As such Hamilton finished P1 with his 1:43.255 with Ocon 0.230s down and Norris in third, 0.386s off the pace.

Alexander Albon, Bottas, Verstappen completed the top ten.

Ferrari ended FP3 with Leclerc 17th and Vettel P20. Could both Ferraris be out in Q1? Possibly.

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:43.255 9 laps
2 Esteban Ocon Renault 0.230s 9 laps
3 Lando Norris McLaren 0.386s 12 laps
4 Alex Albon Red Bull 0.476s 13 laps
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.558s 9 laps
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.641s 10 laps
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 0.718s 8 laps
8 Lance Stroll Racing Point 0.733s 12 laps
9 Carlos Sainz McLaren 0.751s 13 laps
10 Sergio Perez Racing Point 0.925s 12 laps
11 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.253s 14 laps
12 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 1.288s 14 laps
13 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1.516s 11
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1.586s 10 laps
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1.589s 16 laps
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 1.677s 11 laps
17 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1.892s 12 laps
18 George Russell Williams 1.902s 11 laps
19 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 1.935s 13 laps
20 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 2.165s 12 laps

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