Lewis Hamilton heads into this afternoon’s Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying session as the clear favourite for pole position after topping third practice in Budapest. The gap is certainly closing with Nico Rosberg within a tenth of his teammate but Hamilton continues to have the edge having now led all three practice sessions this weekend.
Fernando Alonso made the early running on the prime tyres after a short burst in his Ferrari but Hamilton was quietly impressing and took over at the top just shy of the 40 minute mark. This was the Briton’s sixteenth lap of the session and the speed of the Silver Arrow so late into a stint will have caught the attention of his rivals.
After a short lull, the option tyre runs began and Alonso promptly returned Ferrari to the top of the leaderboard with a 1:24.769, comfortably quicker than Hamilton but just half a tenth ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen who was circulating close behind the Spaniard.
Rosberg was the next to show his hand but an error at turn twelve seemed to have destroyed his lap. The Mercedes driver veered completely off the race track but had so much time in hand that he still usurped Alonso with a 1:24.501 although a cleaner run through the final sector allowed Hamilton to pull out a further half-second when he switched to the softer tyres.
Nico fired a late warning shot by improving on his second and third laps, closing the gap to just 0.047s, while Sebastian Vettel dragged a 1:24.455 out of his Red Bull to go third, two tenths clear of Valtteri Bottas and his teammate Daniel Ricciardo. The Ferraris of Alonso and Raikkonen slipped to sixth and seventh while Kevin Magnussen ended the morning in eighth, four places and six tenths in front of McLaren colleague Jenson Button. The top ten was rounded out by the Toro Rossos of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat with Felipe Massa joining Button among the drivers playing catch-up heading into qualifying after only clocking the eleventh best time.