Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber set the fastest time in the final practice session before Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying.
Webber’s mid-session time of 1:21.550 was good enough to keep him ahead of a hard-charging Lewis Hamilton, who was second for McLaren, less than one tenth behind. Hamilton was narrowly ahead of Webber’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Fourth was Bruno Senna, having an impressive run for Williams. Fernando Alonso was fifth for Ferrari, ahead of the Lotus pair with Räikkönen a tenth quicker than Grosjean. Felipe Massa was eighth-quickest in the second Ferarri, Paul di Resta was ninth for Force India and McLaren’s Jenson Button rounded-out the top ten.
Less than seventh-tenths of a second separated Webber from Button at the end of the hour, much of which had been taken up by drivers doing long runs on the medium tyre, making up for track time lost during FP2 yesterday afternoon when a rain storm hit the track and forced drivers to temper their run plans.
Saturday morning was very different, with track temperatures hitting 40°C under blue skies. Red Bull made the early running with Vettel marginally quicker than Webber. They were soon supplanted by Räikkönen. Many drivers were reporting improved grip, though it didn’t stop slides and off-track moments for many. Hamilton moved to the front, approaching the mid-point of the session.
In the second half of the hour the Soft tyre began to appear and times fell. Red Bull took back first and second, with Webber in front, before the rest of the field had set times on the Option. Hamilton didn’t venture out until the last ten minutes of the session, but when he did he was able to split the Red Bulls and take second.
Perhaps the surprise of the session was the relative lack of pace exhibited by Mercedes, who finished FP3 with Michael Schumacher 17th and Nico Rosberg 18th. Elsewhere in the midfield Pastor Maldonado was 11th for Williams, Kamui Kobayashi 12th for Sauber. Jean-Eric Vergne was 13th for Toro Rosso and Nico Hülkenberg 14th in the second Force India, ahead of Sauber’s Sergio Pérez. Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo was behind him.
The usual backmarkers brought up the rear with Hungarian Grand Prix winner Heikki Kovalainen 19th for Caterham, half a second clear of team-mate Vitaly Petrov. Charles Pic was 21st for Marussia, ahead of his team-mate Timo Glock. The HRTs were 23rd and 24th with another podium finisher at this race, Pedro de la Rosa, ahead of Narain Karthikeyan.