Vettel leads final session as Red Bull drops off the pace
Hungarian Grand Prix - FP3

Vettel leads final session as Red Bull drops off the pace

29/07/2018

Sebastian Vettel remained at the top of the timesheets in final practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix as the threat from Red Bull failed to emerge on Saturday morning.

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas was Vettel's closest competitor with a lap just 0.059s shy of the Ferrari, but made contact with the barrier after spinning at the chicane at Turns 6 and 7 on his next flying lap. There was no major damage to Bottas' car but the slide followed a similar mistake by Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton at the same part of the track just moments earlier, albeit without hitting the barrier.

Hamilton finished the session fourth fastest behind the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen but ahead of the two Red Bulls. Hamilton's mistake came on his first flying lap, taking the best of his tyres ahead of the lap the left him 0.579s off Vettel's pace at the end of the session.

But the big surprise was the competitiveness of the Red Bulls, with a late flying lap from Daniel Ricciardo only good enough to leave him fifth fastest and 0.633s off the pace. Max Verstappen came across traffic in the second sector of his flying lap, but it was the general lack of pace in the first sector that is proving most costly for Red Bull.

The battle for pole looks set to be a straight fight between Mercedes and Ferrari and may swing on whether Bottas and Hamilton can find a better balance from the W09. The car still looks snappy at the rear and both drivers struggled to keep tyre temperatures under control for the duration of the lap. When Hamilton was told about Vettel's 1:16.170 lap time, he simply replied: "I just don't have the grip".

Outside the top six, Renault look well placed to secure a solid haul of points this weekend. Late laps from Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg moved both Renaults ahead of the Haas of Romain Grosjean, although Hulkenberg's first effort was impacted by traffic.

Toro Rosso will also be sniffing around the points this weekend, with Pierre Gasly securing tenth place behind Grosjean. Kevin Magnussen was 11th in the second Haas with Brendon Hartley 12th in the second Toro Rosso, just 0.022s off the Danish driver.

A further 0.124s back, Charles Leclerc finished in 13th place on a track that does not appear to suit his Sauber as well as recent circuits F1 has visited. Fernando Alonso was 14th fastest but spent the majority of his session focusing on the soft tyre, rather than the ultra-soft which is expected to offer the best performance in qualifying.

Esteban Ocon secured 15th place for the beleaguered Force India team, which entered administration on Friday following action from his teammate Sergio Perez. The newly appointed administrators will allow the team to operate as normal this weekend, but a strong result looks unlikely due to the nature of the circuit.

Sergey Sirotkin was 16th for Williams ahead of another lacklustre performance from Stoffel Vandoorne, whose car was fitted with a new floor flown over directly from the factory on Saturday morning.

Marcus Ericsson was 18th ahead of Perez in the Force India and Lance Stroll in last place.

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