In the final hour of practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix, it was Ferrari who dominated the show. Sebastian Vettel ended fastest ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen as both drivers beat the track record. Valtteri Bottas rounded off the top three whilst his teammate Lewis Hamilton struggled to fine a competitive pace.
It was a battle of Ferraris for the fastest lap of the session. Raikkonen was first to beat the Hungaroring track record, but Vettel made a last minute dash in the sister car to go 0.475 seconds faster than the Finn and up 1.464 seconds on Rubens Barrichello’s previous fastest lap around the track, set in 2004.
The 1:17.017 set by Vettel gave Ferrari an 8 second advantage over championship rivals Mercedes. The Brackley-based team focused on soft-tyre compound running throughout most of the session whilst the rest of the field ran on the super-softs. when it came to qualifying simulations, Mercedes still struggled to keep up with the Ferraris, with Hamilton 1.4 seconds off the pace in fifth, struggling with set up and over steer.
After a strong day yesterday, Red Bull slipped back in the order. Max Verstappen was the best placed Red Bull, beating Hamilton to take fourth on the timing board. But the morning was not great for Daniel Ricciardo. Finishing fastest in both practice sessions yesterday, the morning was cut short for the Australian as a hydraulic issue had him pulling his Red Bull to a stop in Sector One. Without being able to complete any simulation for qualifying, Ricciardo finished eighth. The #3 car will be ready to take to the track for Qualifying as Red Bull had a head-start in fixing the car as Ricciardo stopped halfway through the session.
The strong weekend continued for McLaren-Honda as both drivers, once again, finished in the top ten. The two McLaren drivers have currently finished every session this weekend with both cars in the top ten, suggesting this could be a good weekend for the team. Stoffel Vandoorne was the better of the pair, finishing the session with his car in sixth place. After a scare earlier in the session where his car was pushed back into the garage and he climbed out of the car looking like his session may be over, Fernando Alonso finished the session in ninth two tenths off of his teammate.
Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, keeping he two McLarens apart, whilst Jolyon Palmer made it two Renaults in the top ten by taking tenth position. Carlos Sainz Jr finished just outside the top ten as the first driver to not be in the 1m18s lap time. One again the midfield looks to be close, with P6-P14 covered by a second.
Williams had a difficult morning, with both cars down in P17/18. However, Felipe Massa ended his session early having only put 12 laps on the board as he still felt unwell. The Brazilian driver was rumoured to not be well enough to take part in this race weekend as reports broke this morning that he had been unwell all of last night. Massa tried to take part in the session this morning, but felt too unwell to keep going. The Williams mechanics were changing the pedals in Massa’s car at the end of Free Practice Three and it has now been confirmed that Paul Di Resta, Williams’ reserve driver, will take over the #19 for the rest of the weekend.