Spa, FP3: Leclerc quickest in final practice as Hamilton crashes

Wolff expects Hamilton’s car to be ready for qualifying


By Olivier Ferret

31 August 2019 - 13:06
Spa, FP3: Leclerc quickest in final (...)

Ferrari continued to set the pace in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix with Charles Leclerc going quickest in FP3, almost half a second clear of team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton failed to finish the session, however. The Mercedes driver crashed heavily midway through the session, bringing out the red flags.

With Ferrari dominating the session’s opening exchanges, Hamilton, then nine tenths of a second off the P1 pace Sebastian Vettel, was pushing for an improvement when he put a wheel on the outside kerb on entry to the Fagnes corner.

He lost the rear end of his car and slid off track at high speed. He hit the tyres barrier on the outside of the corner hard, with the nose cone and front-right wheel of his car becoming buried under the tyre wall. The championship leader was unhurt, but the incident sparked a lengthy red flag period while his wrecked car was cleared.

The session resumed with 13 minutes left on the clock and most of the field quickly took to the track to put in qualifying sims. Vettel locked up on the entry to La Source at the very start of his run and thus Leclerc’s rise to P1 was relatively straightforward. And after an error-free lap the Monegasque driver took P1 with a time of 1:44.206 that went unchallenged to the flag.

Valtteri Bottas was third at the end of the session, with the Finn ending up four hundredths of a second off Vettel but more than four tenths of a second behind Leclerc.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo took a surprise fourth place in the session, with the Australian outpacing former team-mate Max Verstappen, whose best time of 1:45.312 was only good enough for P7, three tenths of a second off Ricciardo, However, Verstappen was unable to get the most out of his qualifying run as he hit traffic.

Sergio Pérez, who overnight signed a new three-year deal to stay at Racing Point, continued the team’s good form at Spa by taking sixth place with a time of 1:45.521, 1.315s off Leclerc’s pace and marginally ahead of Hamilton’s best time from early in the session.

Hamilton, meanwhile, held seventh place ahead of the Alfa Romeos of Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi, while the final top-10 spot went to Toro Rosso returnee Pierre Gasly.

Alex Albon, Gasly’s replacement at Red Bull, finished at the bottom of the order as he abandoned qualifying sims in favour of race preparation due to a an engine-related penalty that will see him start from the back of the grid.

01 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF90 1:44.206 9
02 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari SF90 1:44.657 12
03 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W10 1:44.703 11
04 Daniel Ricciardo Renault RS19 1:44.974 10
05 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB15 1:45.312 11
06 Sergio Pérez Racing Point Mercedes RP19 1:45.521 12
07 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W10 1:45.566 4
08 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C38 1:45.659 13
09 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C38 1:45.688 13
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:45.752 15
11 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari VF-19 1:45.806 15
12 Nico Hülkenberg Renault RS19 1:45.855 11
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-19 1:46.004 15
14 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault MCL34 1:46.017 14
15 Lando Norris McLaren Renault MCL34 1:46.270 13
16 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes RP19 1:46.379 11
17 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda STR14 1:46.642 13
18 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW42 1:47.858 14
19 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes FW42 1:48.350 14
20 Alex Albon Red Bull Honda RB15 1:50.681 14

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