Hungarian GP FP3: Hamilton strikes late to deny Verstappen top spot

Lewis Hamilton topped an ultra-tight final practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix, as Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel lapped within a tenth of the Formula 1 points leader

Hungarian GP FP3: Hamilton strikes late to deny Verstappen top spot

Mercedes driver Hamilton jumped Verstappen's Red Bull the final moments of Saturday's session, setting a 1m16.084s to defeat the 21-year-old by just 0.013 seconds.

Vettel wound up 0.082s off the pace in the lead Ferrari to tease a three-way fight for pole in this afternoon's qualifying session.

The session started 10 minutes later than planned because of the lengthy process of applying cement dust on the exit of the fast Turn 4 left-hander, where a lot of oil had been dropped during the Formula 2 race that preceded FP3.

When the shortened 50-minute session started the drivers kicked up huge clouds of dust at that part of the track and were visibly struggling for grip.

Lap times improved fairly quickly and by mid-session the pace was faster than on Friday, with Verstappen the first man into the 1m17s before Hamilton set the first truly representative soft-tyre run with a 1m17.051s.

He headed a Mercedes one-two at that stage, but with teams having use of an additional set of soft tyres thanks to the rain-hit FP2 the order changed multiple times in the second half of the session as drivers were able to commit to multiple runs.

Verstappen initially shaded Hamilton on his second flying lap, before switching to a fresh set of softs and smashing the 1m17s barrier with a 1m16.489s.

That was quickly beaten by Leclerc and then Bottas, before Hamilton pumped in a 1m16.339s to reassume the lead in the standings ahead of Leclerc and Verstappen.

McLaren's Lando Norris kicked off the final bout of fresh-tyre runs and jumped to fifth - having briefly run third after the second runs - before the leaders emerged for their final qualifying simulations.

Verstappen lit up the timing screens and jumped 0.242s clear of Hamilton's benchmark with a 1m16.097s that included the fastest middle and final sectors so far.

Vettel then moved into second place, 0.069s slower than Verstappen, having earlier complained of struggling with a "different car compared to before" during a scruffy session.

Verstappen aborted a second attempt on the same set of tyres as Hamilton wound up for one final run.

Hamilton did not improve his first sector but a personal best in the middle part of the lap and the fastest final sector hauled him back to the top.

Bottas's first run on his last set of tyres was hurt by a moment through Turn 4 and then quickly catching a slow Racing Point as he approached Turn 5, which triggered a curse from the Finn on the radio to his team.

He finished fourth, ahead of Leclerc, who failed to improve on his final run. The second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly sixth and six tenths off the pace - having reported possible minor front wing damage after running wide on his first set of soft tyres.

Norris was shuffled back to seventh but won the best-of-the-rest fight, with McLaren team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr ninth despite complaining of a "horrible" Renault engine that was suffering from "misfires".

The McLarens were split by the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen, while Kevin Magnussen edged Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean to complete the top 10.

At the tail of the field, Williams's encouraging practice pace continued as George Russell lapped within two seconds of Hamilton's benchmark, outpacing the Racing Point of Lance Stroll for the second time in three sessions.

Russell was also just half a tenth slower than Alex Albon's Toro Rosso.

FP3 times

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m16.084s - 21
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1m16.097s 0.013s 16
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m16.166s 0.082s 18
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m16.355s 0.271s 19
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m16.392s 0.308s 18
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull/Honda 1m16.684s 0.600s 19
7 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1m16.774s 0.690s 20
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m17.216s 1.132s 22
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 1m17.217s 1.133s 23
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m17.230s 1.146s 17
11 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m17.293s 1.209s 21
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 1m17.432s 1.348s 21
13 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m17.667s 1.583s 19
14 Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 1m17.670s 1.586s 17
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m17.929s 1.845s 22
16 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m17.962s 1.878s 19
17 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso/Honda 1m18.024s 1.940s 19
18 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1m18.072s 1.988s 23
19 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1m18.534s 2.450s 20
20 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 1m18.709s 2.625s 26

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Jos Verstappen , Max Verstappen
Author Scott Mitchell
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