Formula 1

Rosberg and Verstappen Neck-and-Neck in FP3

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Nico Rosberg kept Mercedes at the top of the timesheets but the championship leader’s advantage was slashed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in final practice at the Hungaroring. The pair were separated by just two thousandths of a second on their lower-fuel runs late in the session, suggesting that the Silver Arrows may have competition for the front row of the grid this afternoon.

Under sunny skies, Lewis Hamilton got straight to work with the world champion keen to make up for the lost track time following his crash in FP2. The Briton clocked a 1:21.441 on his opening effort, a time that was soon pipped by Daniel Ricciardo, but Mercedes regained the ascendancy when Rosberg began his morning run-plan, the German breaking into the 1:20s.

Track limits look set to be an issue throughout qualifying with the FIA planning to adopt a “zero-tolerance” approach to drivers that push the boundaries excessively at turns 4 and 11 but Rosberg had no such issues on his lower fuel run, lowering the benchmark to a 1:20.261 despite losing time in the final sector. Verstappen aced the closing corners on his late flyer though, setting the fastest final split on his way to a 1:20.263, all-but matching the series leader.

Ricciardo failed to improve on the closing stages, instead choosing to embark on a twelve lap race-stint on super-softs, and fell to third with Hamilton close behind in fourth having failed to get within half a second of his teammate. The Ferraris continue to have a quiet weekend, with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel fifth and sixth with neither appearing to have a pole position challenge in them.

Fernando Alonso remains the best of the rest for McLaren Honda, finishing seventh for the third session running ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, while Sergio Perez showed Force India’s hand for the first time, climbing up to ninth. Jolyon Palmer completed the top ten after a superb effort in his Renault, handing a welcome morale boost to the Enstone squad.



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