Romain Grosjean topped the timing sheets at the end of the final free practice session of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, at Hungaroring where the Lotus driver’s strong form continued to impress, with Fernando Alonso also showing a healthy turn of pace ahead of the crucial qualifying session later in the day.
Grosjean’s best lap 1:20.730 is the fastest thus far around the tight and twisty circuit near Budapest and suggests that the pole winning time will dip below 80 seconds. The Frenchman appeared more at ease in the current version of the E21, than teammate Kimi Raikkonen during the first three free practice sessions. Raikkonen was 11th on the timing sheets.
Alonso also seemed to have the edge on his teammate, with strong race pace in their arsenal Ferrari are looking strong contenders for a win, particularly the Spaniard. Felipe Massa was fifth.
McLaren seemed to have made a step forward since Germany as Sergio Perez set the third fastest time, but a heavy crash into the barriers in Turn 11 late on in the session could compromise him. Nevertheless the apparent new found pace in the otherwise below par MP4-28 is a strong positive for the Woking outfit. Jenson Button was ninth fastest.
After dominating the opening day Sebastian Vettel was fourth fastest in FP3, suggesting that Red Bull had other matters on their programme in the 60 minute session than hot laps. Mark Webber was seventh.
With ambient temperatures hovering around 31 °C, and track temperatures in the forties, Mercedes appear to be struggling. Lewis Hamilton was fastest of the Brackley pair, with the sixth best time, almost half a second down on the top time and Nico Rosberg in eighth a further quarter second down. Neither driver looked comfortable on the softer tyre.
Adrian Sutil rounded out the top ten in the Force India, with Paul di Resta 13th on the timing sheets.
Williams also appeared to thrive in the heat with Pastor Maldonado able to flex his muscles in a manner seldom shown this season. He was 12th and the last driver within a second of Grosjean’s top time.
The session is a difficult one to read as Red Bull are surely better than 4th and 7th, however the fact is that Lotus and Ferrari look strong in both race and hot-lap trim which sets the scene for an thrilling qualifying shoot out and an equally intriguing race on Sunday. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.
Hungarian Grand Prix, Free Practice 3 – Saturday, 27 July 2013
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:21.125||0.395||27|
|7||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:21.254||0.524||17|
|10||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:21.519||0.789||20|
|13||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:21.963||1.233||21|
|18||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:23.975||3.245||21|
|22||12||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber-Ferrari||No time||2|