Final practice at the Hungarian GP topped by Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton tops yet another session at the Hungarian Grand Prix after setting the fastest time in FP3.

One, two and three. Lewis Hamilton once again set the pace around the Hungaroring. This time his closest challenger was Rosberg but the momentum is still with Hamilton going into qualifying. Especially after an early retirement for Raikkonen and Rosberg.

Even though the temperature had dropped slightly from yesterday’s blistering Budapest heat, FP3 kicked off with sweltering temperatures and a cluster of cars cruising onto the circuit.

Force India were among the silence breakers as they looked to catch up on the lost running after sitting out FP2, as they assessed the cause of Sergio Perez’s suspension failure in the opening practice session. But things were still not great for Force India as a piece of Hulkenberg’s car, possibly a cover of some sorts, blew off the rear of the car on the run into turn one. This however did not hold the Hulk back and both Force India’s fitted the soft tyres soon after to continue with their catch up programme.

But while they caught up on their lost running, Rosberg was flying with back to back fastest laps on the medium tyres to move clear of Raikkonen and Ricciardo by half a second. Hamilton meanwhile had not yet set a timed lap but when he crossed the line, he moved ahead of his team-mate yet behind the soft tyre running Hulkenberg.

Gradually more drivers made the change onto the option compound, allowing Alonso to shoot up to third and set the best middle sector of the session at that stage. His fastest time meant he moved six tenths clear of his Ferrari replacement but it was his former Ferrari team-mate, Raikkonen, with the bigger issue when his SF15-T developed a dramatic water leak in the middle sector and the Finn ended up turning the engine of upon entry to the pit lane.

Initially Kimi believed he had suffered a puncture and began to cruise around before being forced into short cutting the chicane. But when the team had the car in the garage, the situation looked severe and Kimi was straight out of the car. That meant the Finn missed out on the light-fuel, soft-tyre running to prep the car for quali.

In this stage, Rosberg leapt 1.3 seconds clear of the field and 1.6 seconds clear of Hamilton when the German set his first soft tyre flyer. But that was while he was the only front runner to do so and when Hamilton set his first time, he was back in P1 but by just under one tenth of a second.

Vettel later moved into third, but was far from close to the Mercedes duo. Instead, his best time left him in the gap between Mercedes and the field with half a second splitting Vettel and fourth placed Carlos Sainz. Another three tenths split Sainz and his team-mate, but across the final practice session Verstappen never really found a continual groove and instead continually struggled with the first corner.

He was not alone in locking up, going wide and loosing time at turn one but Verstappen also struggled to keep life in the tyres and was on the radio more every now and then to complain about the rears.

Nevertheless, his best time was strong and kept him in the top 10 alongside his team-mate. Rosberg also took a top 10 with his team-mate as you would expect with Mercedes but as the end of session came approached, Rosberg stalled the engine on a practice start to end his session right before the chequered flag.

Position Driver Gap
1 Hamilton 1:22.997
2 Rosberg 0.098
3 Vettel 0.889
4 Kvyat 1.218
5 Sainz 1.329
6 Hulkenberg 1.486
7 Verstappen 1.681
8 Alonso 1.849
9 Ricciardo 1.932
10 Grosjean 1.944
11 Maldonado 1.956
12 Massa 2.097
13 Button 2.232
14 Bottas 2.348
15 Perez 2.396
16 Raikkonen 2.664
17 Nasr 3.063
18 Ericsson 3.098
19 Stevens 5.760
20 Merhi 5.911