Hamilton tops the times in final practice ahead of Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton fastest ahead of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in final practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix. McLaren continue to threaten the top team’s as Ferrari and Aston Martin struggle.

Lewis Hamilton on track for final practice ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix
Photo: @MercedesAMGF1 on twitter

First to set a time was the returning Daniel Ricciardo, with a 1:25.697. The Australian was quickly beaten by Haas’ Kevin Magnussen followed by his own teammate Yuki Tsunoda however, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen then going straight to the top of the time sheets with a 1:18.558 and 1:18.478 respectively.

Charles Leclerc of Ferrari was next of the top teams to set a time, taking P3, albeit a full 1.087s slower than Verstappen at the top. Teammate Carlos Sainz struggled to set a representative lap time on the first time of asking, suffering a slide out of turn 2, compromising turn 3.

George Russell was first to hit the track for Mercedes, setting a 1:18.478 fifteen minutes into the session, good enough to put him in P5, with Lewis Hamilton then taking P7, just 2 tenths of a second slower than his teammate.

Both McLaren drivers then hit the track, with Piastri first to set a time of 1.18.949, good enough for P3 on the soft tyres compared to medium tyres for Red Bull and Mercedes. Teammate Lando Norris then slotted into P4 behind, just over a tenth slower than his teammate, however he quickly dropped to P5 as Esteban Ocon moved his Alpine up with a time just 0.002s faster than Norris.

With twenty minutes gone in the session, everyone except the Alfa Romeo drivers as well as Nico Hulkenberg in the Haas had set a time. Both Alfa Romeo drivers didn’t wait much longer however, with Bottas and Zhou taking P2 and P3 on soft tyres .011s and .066s off Verstappen respectively as other drivers began race simulations.

Aston Martin’s struggles appeared to be continuing at the midpoint of the session, with neither Alonso nor Stroll managing to crack the top ten with their soft tyre runs. The two drivers sat in P12 and P16 with 32 minutes remaining on the clock.

Alex Albon once again showed his pace, jumping up to P6 on soft tyres, just 0.114s shy of Verstappen’s fastest time on the medium compound. Teammate Logan Sargeant wasn’t too far off the pace either, just 0.0389s shy of Verstappen in P9.

Ferrari seemed to be struggling for ultimate pace with 25 minutes, having set their fastest times on Medium tyres, Leclerc and Sainz sat P16 and P20 respectively with both drivers over a second off the pace of Verstappen.

With just over twenty minutes remaining, Fernando Alonso made the jump to the top of the time sheets, setting a 1:18.350 on the soft compound tyres and beating Verstappen’s medium tyre time by 0.128s.

With team’s changing their focus to race pace over qualifying, the times remained mostly stable in the later portion of the session. Lando Norris however, set a new fastest lap of the session with 15 minutes remaining. The young McLaren driver set a 1:18.082 on medium compound tyres, 0.268s faster than Alonso on softs.

Next to shake up the order were the Mercedes drivers. Running on soft tyres Russell jumped to P3 1:18.398 before Hamilton topped the timesheets with a 1:17.811. Hamilton’s time seemed untouchable as Verstappen’s soft tyre time was a full 0.250s off his pace.

Perez was next to improve, moving up to P3 and just 0.013s off Verstappen, also on medium tyres with just ten minutes to go in the session.

With 7 minutes remaining, Ferrari got back on track with soft tyres. Leclerc was first of the Italian Marque’s drivers to set a time, with Sainz slotting in behind his teammate. Best of the Ferrari powered times however, was Nico Hulkenberg, jumping to P4 and just marginally slower than both Red Bull’s.

As the chequered flag flew, none of the drivers were able to improve, leaving Hamilton on top, with Verstappen and Perez chasing the seven time champion, setting us up for an intense and close battle for pole position later this afternoon.

FP3 final classification
Photo: @F1 on twitter