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.
|2||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:16.914||+0.088s||13|
|6||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:17.772||+0.946s||12|
|7||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:17.917||+1.091s||12|
|8||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:17.942||+1.116s||15|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:17.992||+1.166s||15|
|10||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:18.050||+1.224s||16|
|11||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||1:18.115||+1.289s||17|
|12||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:18.174||+1.348s||15|
|13||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:18.235||+1.409s||15|
|14||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||1:18.461||+1.635s||25|
|15||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:18.683||+1.857s||21|
|16||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:18.794||+1.968s||14|
|17||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:18.821||+1.995s||15|
|18||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:19.113||+2.287s||14|
|19||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:19.406||+2.580s||15|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||1:19.933||+3.107s||16|