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Hamilton on top as Mercedes dominate in Hungary

Lewis Hamilton topped the times ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes dominated Friday’s opening practice for this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

The defending six-time world champion clocked a best lap in one minute and 16.003 seconds to outpace the championship-leading Finn by 0.086 seconds, both men running on hard tyres. 

Sergio Perez was third for the much-improved Racing Point team ahead of his controversial ‘pink Mercedes’ team-mate Lance Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo of Renault and Sebastian Vettel, who offered some hope for Ferrari, by taking sixth.

The Racing Point team are under investigation following a protest by Renault that challenges the legality of their 2020 car, which bears a strong resemblance to the 2019 title-winning Mercedes.

Charles Leclerc was seventh in the second Ferrari ahead of Max Verstappen in the leading Red Bull, Lando Norris of McLaren and Esteban Ocon in the second Renault.

On a cool, damp morning with intermittent rain at the Hungaroring circuit, 25 kms north of Budapest, Dutchman Verstappen was the first to top the times, but once the Mercedes were on track they quickly found their rhythm to take control.

Five years after the death of Jules Bianchi, many teams and drivers remembered the former Marussia driver and Ferrari tester.

The session ran with few incidents. Pierre Gasly was unable to take part in his Toro Rosso due to a power unit problem, a setback in start contrast to the smooth progress made by Mercedes whose drivers each ran 37 laps, the most by any team. 

The Hungarian race, being run for the 35th consecutive year, is the third to be run this year in the COVID-19 delayed season and takes place behind closed doors and under strictly-controlled protocol conditions that do not allow anyone from the travelling F1 circus to go anywhere other than their hotels, the circuit or the airport. 

Bottas won the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix and Hamilton last Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix. Bottas leads Hamilton by six points in the title race.

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