August 3, 2019 06:35 PM NPT
BUDAPEST, August 3: Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton set a track record in final practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen looking the Mercedes driver’s closest rival for qualifying.
Hamilton went top of the timing screens right at the end of a session that was shortened by 10 minutes to allow track workers time to clear oil dumped earlier by a blown Formula Two engine.
The Briton’s time of one minute 16.084 was 0.013 quicker than Verstappen’s best.
Three different teams filled the top three places, separated by just 0.082 seconds with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel third.
Valtteri Bottas was fourth fastest for Mercedes, ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly in sixth with clouds of white cement dust billowing up as cars went over the repairs.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was best of the rest, 0.690 slower than Hamilton on a cloudy afternoon with a 60% chance of rain forecast for qualifying at the Hungaroring outside Budapest.
Five times champion Hamilton won from pole position last year and, 41 points clear of Bottas after 11 races, is chasing his eighth victory of the season.
Verstappen is the form driver, however, with two wins in the last three races even if the 21-year-old Dutchman has yet to start from pole position.
Poland’s Robert Kubica, with plenty of support from his compatriots, was the slowest man on track but his Williams team mate George Russell was 18th and ahead of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll.