Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel topped the times in the final practice session of the weekend ahead of the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix, half a second clear of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, as Ferrari dominated in Budapest on Saturday morning.
The German set a time of 1:17.017 to take the top spot on a set of the super-soft tyres, smashing the previous lap record set by Rubens Barrichello in 2004.
Mercedes meanwhile appeared to be struggling for pace, and neither driver was happy with the balance of the W08 either today or yesterday, and the German squad now have a lot of work to do between now and qualifying if they are to beat Ferrari to pole later today.
Kimi Raikkonen missed a chunk of the session due to losing part of his front wing, presumed to have broken off when driving over the high kerbs, having just set the fastest time ever seen at the Hungaroring circuit. The Finn was still able to end the running in second place however, a further half a second ahead of the fastest Mercedes.
Valtteri Bottas was that first Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver in third, but like his team-mate the Finn has been unhappy with the handling of the W08 all weekend. Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen was next up in fourth, and just three tenths further off the pace of Bottas. The Milton Keynes based squad have looked much more competitive this weekend, having introduced a big aero upgrade in Hungary.
Lewis Hamilton, who appeared to struggle most of the two silver arrows drivers, was down in fifth, having a number of off track moments and lock ups during the free practice session. The Brit appeared to have trouble getting the super-soft tyres to work, and Mercedes will have some serious questions to answer during the break between now and qualifying.
McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Stoffel Vandoorne was an impressive sixth fastest, having put in a stellar lap time at the very end of the session, to go two and a half tenths faster than team-mate Fernando Alonso. The Woking based squad continued to look strong here in Hungary this weekend, and having taken penalties in Silverstone to allow them the chance of a better performance in Budapest, their strategy appears to have paid off, and we could see McLaren’s best result of the season on Sunday.
The Belgian also moved ahead of Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver Nico Hulkenberg in those closing stages, followed by Daniel Ricciardo, and Alonso finishing up in ninth.
Ricciardo’s free practice 3 had an abrupt end, when he was forced to pull over to the side of the road midway through the session, smoke pouring out of the back of the RB13. The Australian was yet to post a really competitive lap time on the board, having sat in the pits through the early stages of the session. It was a massively disappointing moment for Ricciardo, who was the most competitive driver on Friday, topping both practice sessions.
Jolyon Palmer had a much better session this morning and boy did he need it, having destroyed his car yesterday during free practice 1 as well as spinning into the barrier during free practice 2, damaging the new floor that had seen team-mate Hulkenberg do so well at the last round of the season.
The Enstone based squad were able to repair the new floor in time for this session, and the Brit reported being a lot happier with the balance of the RS17, and it showed as Palmer ended the session in a respectable tenth place, just three tenths down on team-mate Hulkenberg.
Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr was eleventh, one tenth ahead of Sahara Force India F1 Team driver Esteban Ocon, who was the meat in a Toro Rosso sandwich, with Daniil Kvyat a further tenth back in thirteenth place.
Sergio Perez was fourteenth, ahead of Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean who was once again struggling to get the VF17 working as he would like, reporting over team radio that he was unhappy with the rear tyres.
The Frenchman’s team-mate Kevin Magnussen was sixteenth, just ahead of Williams Martini Racing driver Felipe Massa. The Brazilian ended the session fifteen minutes early however, believed to be feeling unwell once again, having visited the hospital yesterday after reporting he felt dizzy and sick during free practice 2. Massa was passed fit to race following that visit, but the Brazilian was taken unwell again during free practice 3.
That could mean we see Williams reserve driver Paul Di Resta, who has been on standby all weekend, take over at the wheel of the FW40. The rules state that a driver must complete a practice session in order to be able to take part in the race, however qualifying is considered to be a practice session, and therefore Di Resta would be eligible.
It was not a great weekend for the Grove based squad with rookie Lance Stroll even further down the order in eighteenth place, just one tenth ahead of Sauber F1 Team drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson, who once again propped up the bottom of the grid, despite reporting they would be bringing a big update to Hungary, and would be turning up the power to full for the first time this season, perhaps they are saving that for qualifying later today?
With Red Bull having been fastest on Friday, and Ferrari taking over that honour today, Mercedes have plenty to do ahead of qualifying, which is not the usual story on qualifying day.
It is likely the silver arrows will turn up the wick later today, and so we should be set for an extremely close qualifying session between the top three teams.
2017 Hungarian Grand Prix – Final Practice 3 Results
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