Formula 1

Belgian GP: Leclerc quickest in FP3 as Hamilton crashes

Belgian GP: Leclerc quickest in FP3 as Hamilton crashes

Charles Leclerc continued Ferrari’s perfect start to the Belgian Grand Prix weekend as Formula 1 world championship leader Lewis Hamilton crashed heavily in final practice.

Hamilton’s rare mistake triggered a red flag just after the halfway mark in Saturday’s one-hour session when, after setting a personal best first sector, he ploughed into the tyre barrier at the Fagnes chicane.

The Mercedes driver lost the rear of his car as he turned in on the outside kerb, then wrestled to catch the slide only to lose the rear again as he ran deeper into the run-off.

Hamilton avoided spinning but was unable to stop the car hitting the barrier heavily on the front left.

He apologised to his team over the radio and emerged from the car unharmed, with Mercedes facing plenty of work to get his car ready for qualifying.

Hamilton’s crash caused a substantial delay and the session only resumed with less than 15 minutes remaining.

Vettel led Leclerc by a tenth of a second at this point after the initial runs on soft tyres, but times were slower than in FP2 and remained that way despite late improvements.

Leclerc kicked that off by displacing Vettel with a 1m44.206s, which remained the benchmark despite being a tenth slower than his own best from Friday.  

Vettel was 0.451s back after failing to improve, fractionally ahead of the sole remaining Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.

Daniel Ricciardo was a surprise fourth-fastest for Renault, capitalising on Hamilton’s shunt and Max Verstappen suffering in traffic but also complaining of brake-balance problems in his Red Bull.

Verstappen was 1.1s slower than Leclerc in fifth, with Sergio Perez leapfrogging the absent Hamilton late on for sixth.

Alfa Romeo pair Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi followed Hamilton in eighth and ninth, while the demoted Pierre Gasly completed the top 10 for Toro Rosso.

Gasly’s replacement at Red Bull Alex Albon was slowest of the 20 runners after sacrificing qualifying simulations to focus on longer runs, as he is due to start from the back of the grid.

Session results

Cla # Driver Chassis Laps Time Gap
1 16 Monaco Charles Leclerc
Ferrari 9 1'44.206
2 5 Germany Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari 12 1'44.657 0.451
3 77 Finland Valtteri Bottas
Mercedes 11 1'44.703 0.497
4 3 Australia Daniel Ricciardo
Renault 10 1'44.974 0.768
5 33 Netherlands Max Verstappen
Red Bull 11 1'45.312 1.106
6 11 Mexico Sergio Perez
Racing Point 12 1'45.521 1.315
7 44 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes 4 1'45.566 1.360
8 7 Finland Kimi Raikkonen
Alfa Romeo 13 1'45.659 1.453
9 99 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi
Alfa Romeo 13 1'45.688 1.482
10 10 France Pierre Gasly
Toro Rosso 15 1'45.752 1.546
11 8 France Romain Grosjean
Haas 15 1'45.806 1.60
12 27 Germany Nico Hulkenberg
Renault 11 1'45.855 1.649
13 20 Denmark Kevin Magnussen
Haas 15 1'46.004 1.798
14 55 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr.
McLaren 14 1'46.017 1.811
15 4 United Kingdom Lando Norris
McLaren 13 1'46.270 2.064
16 18 Canada Lance Stroll
Racing Point 11 1'46.379 2.173
17 26 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat
Toro Rosso 13 1'46.642 2.436
18 63 United Kingdom George Russell
Williams 14 1'47.858 3.652
19 88 Poland Robert Kubica
Williams 14 1'48.350 4.144
20 23 Thailand Alex Albon
Red Bull 14 1'50.681 6.475
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About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Belgian GP
Sub-event FP3
Author Scott Mitchell