FP3: Hamilton dictates the pace in final practice

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Confirming Mercedes' surprise form at the twisty Hungaroring, defending champion Lewis Hamilton ended the third and final practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix on top, edging his championship rival Max Verstappen ahead of the all-important qualifying session.

Red Bull had been tipped to be strong at the go-kart circuit-like Hungarian race track, but it is currently Mercedes to dictate the pace at Round 11 of the 2021 F1 season. Verstappen could only top the opening session yesterday before Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton comfortably topped the afternoon practice.

Most of the drivers used two sets of soft compound in FP3 in order to fine-tune their cars for the important qualifying session that could heavily influence the final results on a track where overtaking is at a premium.

After the first runs, Valtteri Bottas led the standing, continuing his impressive form from Friday. His team mate Lewis Hamilton followed a different programme with the Briton rolling out on to the 4.3km Hungaroring unusually early. After completing a series of hot laps, the Briton completed a long run on heavy fuel load on his first set of red-walled tyres, indicating that he wanted to learn how his car behaves following slight changes to his W12.

Of the top drivers, Bottas was the first racer to perform a qualifying simulation, setting a 1m17.055. His benchmark was beaten by Max Verstappen, but, in the end, it was Hamilton to top the session with a 1m16.826 that has been the best time of the weekend so far.

Ferrari presented itself in a better form than how they performed yesterday. The Italians were expected to go well at the Hungaroring, but they were unable to live up to the expectations on Friday. However, both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc could raise the barin the final practice with the Monegasque ending up fifth fastest. His Spanish team mate secured an impressive 4th place with his new engine after his team was forced to break curfew, swapping the Spaniard’s second ICE for a fresh unit due to unexpected reliability concerns on Friday.

There was nothing to chose between McLaren, Alpine, Aston Martin and AlphaTauri, indicating that qualifying might produce an enthralling session among the midfield outfits.

Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen took P15 while team mate Gionvinazzi set the 18th quickest lap. There might be some concerns for their team, though, as the Italian was released into the back of Stroll’s Aston Martin which might end in a financial penalty for the Silverstone-based outfit.

The session was red-flagged in the closing stages with Haas driver Mick Schumacher bringing out a seven-minute stoppage after suffering a heavy crash in Turn 11. The German was taken to the Hungaroring’s medical centre, but he was declared fit and walked back to his team’s garage after the session ended.

144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:16.82620
233Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:16.914+0.088s13
377Valtteri BottasMercedes1:17.055+0.229s15
455Carlos SainzFerrari1:17.497+0.671s20
516Charles LeclercFerrari1:17.520+0.694s16
64Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:17.772+0.946s12
711Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda1:17.917+1.091s12
83Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes1:17.942+1.116s15
914Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:17.992+1.166s15
1018Lance StrollAston Martin Mercedes1:18.050+1.224s16
1110Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Honda1:18.115+1.289s17
1231Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:18.174+1.348s15
135Sebastian VettelAston Martin Mercedes1:18.235+1.409s15
1422Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda1:18.461+1.635s25
157Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:18.683+1.857s21
1663George RussellWilliams Mercedes1:18.794+1.968s14
176Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:18.821+1.995s15
1899Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:19.113+2.287s14
1947Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:19.406+2.580s15
209Nikita MazepinHaas Ferrari1:19.933+3.107s16