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Hungarian GP 2016

JULY 23, 2016

Practice 3 Report - Bull Run

Nico Rosberg, Hungarian GP 2016
© The Cahier Archive


By Dan Knutson in Budapest

Nico Rosberg topped the times in his Mercedes in Free Practice 3 for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but the real story of the session was the bullish run by Max Verstappen who wound up just 0.002 of a second slower in his Red Bull.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 60-minute session was 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Centigrade.)

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari - Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes - Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer - Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Force India Mercedes - Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault - Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari - Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari - Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda - Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes - Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto. Haas Ferrari - Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.

Rosberg has been quickest on Friday. Hamilton crashed and had to sit out most of FP2.

"Those new white curbs, I just touched it and whoooa, sent me flying," Hamilton said on Friday after the accident. "It was a pretty hard hit, but I still love it here so I'm going to enjoy my evening and come back tomorrow fresh for the morning."

Wehrlein and Vettel were the first out on track.

The refreshed Hamilton went out several minutes later. He was on Pirelli's super soft compound slicks - which he had not had a chance to try on Friday - and on his first flying lap he posted a time of 1:21.441. That was one second slower than Rosberg's best time on Friday.

A dozen minutes into the session Ricciardo crossed the line with a time of 1:21.028 using the super softs. Shortly thereafter Vettel did a run on the same compound but ruined his lap by sliding off the track at Turn 12. His Ferrari teammate Raikkonen was now in third place with a time of 1:21.487.

Rosberg did his run 15 minutes into the session and went fastest with a 1:20.811. Raikkonen, meanwhile, improved to a 1:21.451, and was now in fourth place behind Rosberg, Ricciardo and Hamilton.

Verstappen had yet to do a lap. He was climbing into his Red Bull as Hamilton started flying lap 20 minutes into FP3. But it was a slow lap as his super softs were now well worn. Meanwhile Rosberg had improved to a 1:20.547.

The order of the top four remained the same. Bottas, Massa, Vettel and Button rounded out the top eight as the halfway mark approached. But now Verstappen was finally out on the track. His time of 1:21.379, on the super softs, put him into third place.

"I lost the sync going onto the main straight," Verstappen radioed.

Ricciardo then improved to a 1:20.726, and Verstappen to a 1:20.995.

Twenty-five minutes remained in FP3 when Vettel, who had been ninth, clocked a 1:21.339 to move up to fourth. But Raikkonen displaced him with a time of 1:21.143.

Hamilton, now sixth, said his car was overheating, and headed for the pits.

Raikkonen had no such woes as he improved to a 1:20.859 to take over third place.

With 20 minutes remaining, most drivers were in the pits. The top 10 were: Rosberg, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Vettel, Hamilton, Bottas, Massa, Palmer and Alonso. That was going to change as the drivers did their qualifying simulations. Massa was the first to do so, followed by Rosberg and Ricciardo.

Rosberg got his time down to a 1:20.261. Then Hamilton posted a 1:20.769 to claim third. Verstappen leaped up to second with a 1:20.263. So he was just 0.002 of a second slower than Rosberg!

At the end of it all, the top 10 were: Rosberg, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Vettel, Alonso, Bottas, Perez and Palmer.