Bottas lets Hamilton know he’s in for a fight

Michelle Foster
Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas will start from pole position for the 70th Anniverary Grand Prix at Silverstone

Valtteri Bottas laid down his marker in the battle at the Hungarian GP, edging Lewis Hamilton in Saturday’s final practice.

There were a few tired faces in the Red Bull camp as Formula 1 prepared for Saturday’s final practice, the team having broken curfew to work on set-up after neither driver was happy with his RB16 on Friday.

With rain in the air but cement dust on the track from earlier races, the drivers had to weigh up putting in an early run on a dry track but getting dirt on the tyres or waiting but potentially being caught out by the rain.

Kimi Raikkonen laid down the first lap time of the session, a 1:19.1 for the Alfa Romeo driver, who shaved half a second off his time on his next hot lap.

With Raikkonen and the two Williams have done their part to clean up the track, the Red Bull, Ferrari and the Mercedes drivers headed out for their first laps of the day.

Alex Albon went fastest, Charles Leclerc took over, Sebastian Vettel topped his time, Max Verstappen edged ahead, and then came the Mercedes team-mates. Valtteri Bottas hit the front with a 1:16.8 but Lewis Hamilton had a scruffy first lap and backed off.

Hamilton, though, was down the order for very long, putting in a 1:16.4 to go quickest. Verstappen looked to be on track to beat that, purple in the middle sector, only to lose it at Turn 12 and put his RB16 into a spin.

Midway through the hour-long session Bottas was back in front with a 1:16.2, 0.062s up on Sergio Perez with Hamilton a further 0.13s down. Leclerc was fourth ahead of Lance Stroll and Verstappen.

With the skies growing darker, the traffic became an issue as everyone wanted to put in a few more laps in the dry. Despite the traffic Hamilton hit the front with a 1:16.1 on a lap that included a near miss with a slowing McLaren. Without traffic he upped that to a 1:15.9.

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Pierre Gasly, who missed Friday’s first practice with an engine sensor issue, ran into more troubles in FP3 as he reported that his AlphaTauri was “low on power”. He, however, was up to eighth place at the time.

Ferrari kicked off the qualy sims for the big boys with Leclerc hitting the front with a 1:15.7 while Vettel was half a second behind his team-mate, caught out by a tail wind. However, the Monégasque driver wasn’t P1 for very long.

Bottas crossed the line with a 1:15.4 with Hamilton backing off on his flying lap after failing to hook up the middle sector. Verstappen, who couldn’t get “eighth gear synced”, went purple in the first sector but lost time in the second. He moved up fourth. The big shock, though, was George Russell up to ninth only 1.47s behind Bottas.

As the final 10 minutes played out Hamilton upped his pace but had to settle for second, 0.042s down on his team-mate, Perez moved up to third ahead of Leclerc while Stroll grabbed fifth place.

Verstappen was sixth ahead of Lando Norris, Vettel, Pierre Gasly and Daniel Ricciardo. Russell finished P14.

1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:15.437
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.042s
3 Sergio Perez Racing Point 0.161s
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.344s
5 Lance Stroll Racing Point 0.596s
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.647s
7 Lando Norris McLaren 0.756s
8 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.914s
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1.016s
10 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1.071s
11 Carlos Sainz McLaren 1.108s
12 Alex Albon Red Bull 1.145s
13 Esteban Ocon Renault 1.269s
14 George Russell Williams 1.410s
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1.429s
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1.649s
17 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri 1.855s
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 2.059s
19 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 2.090s
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams 2.213s

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