Sebastian Vettel was once again fastest in final practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix as Red Bull slipped back on Saturday morning.
The German topped FP2 from Max Verstappen, with the two Red Bull drivers in the top three at the end of both of Friday’s practice sessions, and was once again quickest in the final hour at the Hungaroring. However, it was Valtteri Bottas who provided the closest challenge — ending up 0.059s adrift of Vettel’s 1m16.170 — with Kimi Raikkonen 0.2s off the pace in third.
Lewis Hamilton was fourth but Mercedes appeared to struggle with the handling of its car despite the solid pace, with both drivers spinning at the chicane. First Hamilton lost the rear during the first part of the Turns 6 and 7 sequence, bouncing over the second part of the curb and coming to a stop facing the wrong way on the corner exit.
Bottas had a more dramatic spin, with the Finn doing exactly the same as Hamilton but at higher speed and sliding sideways across the grass and clouting the barrier on the outside of the track. Fortunately for Bottas, the impact was square on and did not cause any significant damage.
Daniel Ricciardo improved with a late lap to finish the session fifth fastest, but the gap of 0.633s to Vettel appears substantial ahead of qualifying. Verstappen was a little over 0.1s adrift in sixth, and was one of many drivers to complain about traffic after gesturing to Charles Leclerc having had to pass the Sauber at Turn 1.
Renault made a good step forward in the final practice session to finish seventh and eighth, with Carlos Sainz the lead car and over 0.3s clear of his teammate Nico Hulkenberg. Haas remained extremely close, however, with Romain Grosjean just 0.001s slower than Hulkenberg in ninth place ahead of Pierre Gasly – 0.065s further back — in tenth.
With Kevin Magnussen and Brendon Hartley 11th and 12th respectively but a little over 0.1s off Hulkenberg, it looks set to be an extremely close fight between Haas, Renault and Toro Rosso for the final Q3 spots.
Force India carried out a normal session despite entering administration on Friday, with Esteban Ocon 15th and Sergio Perez in 19th place. Lance Stroll posted the slowest time but teammate Sergey Sirotkin was 16th as Williams again looked slightly more competitive after making a step forward with a new front wing introduced in Hockenheim last weekend.