BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lapped fastest overall for Mercedes in Hungarian Grand Prix practice on Friday as rain limited meaningful track action in the afternoon.
With soggy fans huddled under plastic ponchos and umbrellas, Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly and Max Verstappen ended the day one-two on the timesheets in the drizzly second 90 minute session with Hamilton third.
The Briton’s morning lap of one minute 17.233 seconds was still the day’s best, with Gasly producing a 1:17.854 effort on the fastest soft tyres in the afternoon when the track was still suitable for slicks.
Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon crashed soon after the first spots of rain, the Thai acknowledging driver error after going onto the grass at the last corner.
The incident brought out the red flags briefly.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas had to sit out the opening session while his mechanics changed the car’s power unit but returned after lunch to post the fourth fastest lap.
The lost track time was still a setback for the Finn, who crashed out at a wet Hockenheim last weekend just when he looked likely to make inroads into Hamilton’s overall lead and ended up 41 points adrift.
Bottas set his best time on a medium tyre, while five times world champion Hamilton used the slower hard rubber in the second session.
Hamilton, who had said he could not wait to be back in the car after recovering from a bug that laid him low in Germany last weekend, has won a record six times in Hungary including last year from pole.
The championship leader is eager to go into the August break with an eighth win in 12 races after a dismal performance in Germany last weekend.
Verstappen, the in-form driver of the moment with two victories from the last three races, was second on the morning timesheets but only a thousandth of a second ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The Dutch youngster, who spun twice in that opening session, is expected to go well in Hungary, a track that should suit his car’s characteristics with dry conditions expected at the Hungaroring on Sunday.
Gasly was fourth fastest in the morning, with Danish driver Kevin Magnussen fifth for Haas and Charles Leclerc sixth for Ferrari.
The Monegasque Leclerc dropped to seventh after lunch on medium tyres, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo fifth for Renault and Kimi Raikkonen sixth in an Alfa Romeo.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge and Ken Ferris