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Hungarian GP: Vettel remains ahead, Mercedes in a spin

Written by  Jul 28, 2018

Sebastian Vettel remains the man to beat heading into qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix after setting the quickest time during final practice.

The German moved straight to the top of the timesheets with his first timed lap of the one-hour session on Saturday before Valtteri Bottas, in an improved Mercedes, would beat him with the first of his low fuel runs towards the end.

Vettel wouldn't be behind for long though, as he went back out and posted a 1m16.170s on the Ultrasoft tyre to lead the Finn by just over half a tenth.

The difference is in the first and last sector for the Ferrari driver, with over four-tenths advantage in the stretch to Turn 4 where most of the straights are around the Hungaroring track.

Also, his initial best in the fairly simple final sector was untouched with perhaps a hint that Vettel backed out a little when he set his overall best time.

Mercedes are back in the game though with Bottas the fastest man in the middle sector in second. However, the balance of the W09 does still appear on a knife edge with Lewis Hamilton still struggling with oversteer in fourth.

Both drivers would also spin through the slow chicane at Turns 6 and 7, with Valtteri sliding into the barrier on the outside but emerging with only some damaged rims.

The main disappointment was Red Bull as their pace from Friday has seemingly vanished with Max Verstappen three-quarters of a second slower in fifth and teammate Daniel Ricciardo a further two-tenths back in sixth.

It is in that first sector where almost all of the time is being lost to those ahead but now nothing is being gained through the twisty second and third parts of the lap.

A main story of the session was traffic, with drivers backing up before the final corner but also at other areas around the track with Verstappen and Charles Leclerc having a moment at Turn 1 and Ricciardo narrowly avoiding Kevin Magnussen's Haas as he dawdled through Turn 3.

Track limits at Turn 5 is also becoming more of an issue, with some drivers running completing off the track on the exit of the long right-hander. It is possible the FIA will be tracking cars that do so in qualifying to consider if they gain an advantage.

In the midfield, Renault emerged as the 'best of the rest' with Carlos Sainz ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in seventh and eighth.

It remains tight with Haas, however, with Romain Grosjean just 0.001s behind the German in ninth and Pierre Gasly continuing his strong weekend in P10 for Toro Rosso, just half a tenth further back.

Sauber, McLaren, Force India and Williams look set for a battle to decide the positions in Q1 as the four teams filled the final eight places.

Charles Leclerc and Fernando Alonso continued their season-long battle with the Monegasque just ahead of the Spaniard in 13th.

Esteban Ocon sat in 15th for the Silverstone-based team, which it was confirmed entered administration on Friday, completing the would be Q2 order in qualifying.

Sergey Sirotkin was P16 ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne with Marcus Ericsson, Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll completing the timesheet.

The full results from Practice 3 can be seen below:

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