Going into Saturday, Hamilton had topped every session as the Mercedes pair looked comfortably ahead of the rest. Despite a poor start to the day, Williams improved in FP2 compared to FP1. However they still looked far behind the Mercedes duo despite being their closest challengers in recent races.
Come the start of the final free practice session a heap of drivers headed straight out to the 4.381 km track, with Vergne’s Toro Rosso leading the way. But it was not till a little later when the first time was posted, a 1:36:947 by Kamui Kobayashi. Kamui’s time was soon pushed down the order by his team-mate. Followed by much faster laps by Rosberg and Magnussen.
As the drivers carried on their runs on the medium tyres, Hamilton was lapping a lot slower than his rivals. It appeared as if Lewis was carrying out longer runs with more fuel on board, which would support his slower laps. But as for his rivals, the Red Bull’s and Williams appeared to have closed the gap between their best times and the best time Rosberg had set. Ricciardo and Bottas both had surpassed Rosberg’s 1:26:292 with Ricciardo now topping the session with a 1:25:999.
Come the mid mark of the session, Hamilton was still yet to post a competitive time. But he had still posted a time to speak of, unlike Fernando Alonso. For the Spaniard, his Ferrari had remained in his garage for most of the opening half hour, only completing two installation laps. However, once Fernando hit the track and actually set a time, he sent his Ferrari straight to the top spot with a 1:25:954.
Similarly to Fernando, once Hamilton set a flying lap in FP3 he sent his Mercedes straight to the top spot. Lewis’ best time of the session resulted in a 0.272 second advantage over Fernando. This meant lewis was the only driver to have a significant advantage in the top four.
It took until 48 minuets of the hour-long session had been completed before the first driver to use the soft compound tyres hit the track. Today, it was Alonso being the first to venture out on the option compound tyres that drivers managed to find around 1 and a half seconds on yesterday in the second free practice session.
On his first soft compound timed lap today, Alonso managed to take off over a second to his best lap time and regained the top spot of the session after a 1:224:769. For Raikkonen, he also found time on the softer tyres to slot in behind his team-mate. But as you would expect, it was the Mercedes that secured the top spot when Rosberg went fastest of all throughout the first and second sector. Nico could have set the fastest sector time in the final sector as well but made a mistake. Which in turn then allowed Hamilton to go top by four tenths of a second.
Over Nico’s next couple of flying laps, he managed to half the deficit on each lap. Initially closing the gap to two tenths, before shaving a further two tenths off his time before the chequered flag dropped. Now as the German entered his in lap the gap was just five hundredths of a second.
That meant Hamilton topped another free practice session at the Hungarian Grand Prix 2014 weekend. With Hamilton taking less laps to set the fastest time he may have more of an advantage come qualifying later today than he has already shown. On the other hand however, in the battle of the Mercs, Rosberg may also have something held back for later today.
The advantage the Mercedes driver have over the field appears to be closer than at most races this season. For this mornings session it was the Red Bulls who finished as the ‘best of the rest’ but Ricciardo in fourth was still six tenths off of Hamilton.
|3||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:24.455||0.407||16|
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:24.678||0.630||15|
|17||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.035||1.987||19|
|18||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.142||2.094||17|