Bottas tops Hungarian GP 2nd practice from teammate Hamilton
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Valtteri Bottas posted the fastest time ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in second practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Friday.
Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen finished a blisteringly hot day behind them in third, having led the two Mercedes cars in first practice.
Bottas was a narrow .027 seconds ahead of Hamilton and .298 clear of Verstappen, who leads Hamilton by eight points overall after 10 races.
The seven-time F1 champion Hamilton made a rare mistake during the session when he misjudged a turn and went off track.
French driver Esteban Ocon was an encouraging fourth for the French-owned Alpine team. But Ferrari struggled for pace with Charles Leclerc 11th and Carlos Sainz Jr. in 12th.
There is a third and final practice Saturday ahead of qualifying in the afternoon.
Getting pole position could prove crucial in Sunday’s race.
The sinewy and tight Hungaroring is arguably the hardest track to overtake on after Monaco — where Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took pole position this season for the ninth of his career.
Leclerc’s younger brother, Arthur Leclerc, took the first pole of his career at the Hungaroring on Friday, in F3.
Earlier Friday, Verstappen was fastest ahead of Bottas and Hamilton.
He went to the top of the board with about 10 minutes left, pipping Bottas by a narrow margin of .061 and placing .167 clear of defending champion Hamilton.
Tensions between Hamilton and Verstappen have been running high since last Sunday’s British GP, where Hamilton won after Verstappen crashed following contact with his Mercedes on Lap 1. Verstappen was upset with Hamilton’s jubilant celebrations while he was having checks in hospital.
Red Bull’s appeal of the incident was rejected by governing body FIA on Friday and no further action was taken against Hamilton, who won at Silverstone despite being handed a 10-second time penalty.
In a remarkable near-miss during practice, Verstappen and Hamilton almost collided in the pit lane as they exited their garages simultaneously.
In hot conditions on the sunbaked Hungaroring track, Sainz Jr. was fourth ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.
The hour-long session was briefly held up with about 20 minutes left after Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri hit a wall. He was unhurt.
Verstappen leads Hamilton 5-4 for wins so far this season, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez the only other driver to win.
There is a four-week summer break after Sunday’s race, where Hamilton will look to win in Hungary for a record-extending ninth time and fourth straight.
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