Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel covered by 0.082s in FP3

Image by Zak Mauger/LAT

Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel covered by 0.082s in FP3

Formula 1

Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel covered by 0.082s in FP3


Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel were covered by just 0.082s in final practice to set up the potential for a thrilling qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

It took Hamilton’s final lap of the session to regain top spot as the championship leader posted a 1m16.084s to edge out Verstappen by just 0.013s. Hamilton was fastest in the final sector to overhaul the Red Bull, while Verstappen set the pace in the middle sector, and Vettel — 0.082s off Hamilton — was quickest in sector one as all three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull will be targeting pole position.

Valtteri Bottas was not much further back in fourth position either as he posted a 1m16.355s despite aborting his first attempt after sliding wide behind traffic at Turn 4. Bottas ended up 0.037s clear of Charles Leclerc, but Pierre Gasly in sixth looks more under threat from an improved McLaren than likely to challenge for pole.

Gasly was 0.6s off the pace, and Lando Norris was within 0.1s of the Red Bull as he posted an impressive time of 1m16.774s. Behind him was a gap of nearly half a second, with Kimi Raikkonen in eighth ahead of Carlos Sainz and the Haas pair of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.

Further down the field, George Russell showed encouraging pace for Williams to end up 18th — ahead of Lance Stroll — and right in the mix with the rest of the midfield. Russell’s lap time of 1m18.072s left him within 0.15s of three other midfield teams in the form of Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo, Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault and the Toro Rosso of Alexander Albon.

The start of the session was delayed 10 minutes as track cleaning took place, after Ralph Boschung’s engine failed towards the end of the Formula 2 feature race on Saturday morning. That race usually takes place after qualifying but a different schedule in Hungary meant it finished around 40 minutes before FP3, and the oil that was left on the track took a long time to deal with.

As a result, 10 minutes were lost in terms of track running, and when the 50-minute session started the drivers were greeted with huge amounts of cement dust at Turn 4, creating a white cloud for the first few laps.

The track did clean up enough as more running continued and lap times continued to improve throughout. However, the delay means teams have even less dry data to work with going into qualifying and the race, with Friday’s FP2 hit by rain.