BUDAPEST, July 17 (Reuters) - Six times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton started his bid for an eighth Hungarian Grand Prix victory by leading Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas in a dominant practice one-two on Friday.
The Briton’s best lap of one minute 16.003 seconds at the twisty Hungaroring was 0.086 quicker than championship leader Bottas, despite being on harder tyres than the Finn.
Mercedes-powered cars filled the top four slots on the timing screens, with Racing Point’s controversial ‘Pink Mercedes’ cars third and fourth with Mexican Sergio Perez and Canadian Lance Stroll.
Perez — whose place at the team appears uncertain for next year despite having a long-term contract — was half a second off the leading Mercedes’ pace but a further 0.437 quicker than Stroll.
The Racing Point cars, copies of last year’s title-winning Mercedes, were protested by Renault at the previous Styrian Grand Prix in Austria with the governing FIA still investigating.
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, a previous winner in Hungary with Red Bull, was fifth fastest but 1.197 seconds slower than Hamilton.
“Mercedes, again, out of the blocks look very very, quick,” said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, whose quickest driver was Max Verstappen in eighth place on a cloudy day.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, increasingly linked to Perez’s seat, and team mate Charles Leclerc were sixth and seventh respectively.
Hamilton is six points behind Bottas after they each won a race in Austria, the Finn taking the season-opener and the champion the second at the same Red Bull Ring.
The Briton has won a record seven times in Hungary and an eighth victory would equal Ferrari great Michael Schumacher’s record number of wins at the same grand prix, the German achieving that in France. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis)