The night rain didn’t lower the temperatures too much in the Hungaroring basin, but the third free practice session gave more realistic verdicts than yesterday afternoon, with Max Verstappen closer to Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes confirming himself as the fastest with the Mercedes equipped with soft tires. The seven-time world champion at the end of the session reached 1’16 “826, overtaking the Dutchman’s Red Bull by 88 thousandths.
The black arrow, particularly at ease in the heat, is confirmed in the front (yesterday the fastest was Valtteri Bottas), but Verstappen got very close by unloading the RB16B which yesterday suffered from a strong understeer in the corners. Max found a good lap to overtake the second driver from Brackley, but the Finn is not far off. The match for pole position is enclosed between these three drivers, as Sergio Perez continues to disappoint in the flying lap leaving a second to the first two, placing himself only in seventh place. The involution of the Mexican is evident with the passing of the GPs.
The one who gave another imprint to the weekend is the Ferrari which yesterday suffered from heat stroke: the Cavallino technicians worked hard on the set-up of the Reds and found a good balance of the SF21 which allowed Carlos Sainz, gifted of the cool engine 3 mounted in the night, to climb back to fourth place, repeating what had been seen on Friday morning.
Yesterday afternoon the team from Maranello worked with a wing that was too low and made the car slip, also burdened by a greater quantity of petrol. The optimism revealed by Charles Leclerc in yesterday’s statements found confirmation in the facts today: the Monegasque is fifth at 23 thousandths from the Spaniard and the gap has fallen to six tenths, while yesterday it was double. The Hungaroring nightmare seems averted.
The two Reds are ahead of Lando Norris’ McLaren three tenths behind. The Englishman is sixth, while Daniel Ricciardo is eighth: the disappointing Sergio Perez has slipped between the two. The top 10 is completed by Fernando Alonso ninth with Alpine and Lance Stroll tenth with Aston Martin.
Pierre Gasly ruined the good lap due to the impediment to the penultimate corner caused by Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo who was not warned by his engineer by the arrival of the Frenchman who was almost stopped in full line.
The Italian was also the author of a dangerous exit from the pits: with the front wing he touched Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin. In this case it was the chief mechanic who started him without looking at the pit lane. Antonio risks a penalty. He does not risk worsening his position too much as he is only 18th in the list of times, while Kimi Raikkonen was more brilliant with a 15th place.
Esteban Ocon, very brilliant yesterday, was downsized with the Alpine: the Frenchman is 12th ahead of Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) and Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri). The two Williams are very close with George Russell 17th ahead of Nicholas Latifi.
Mick Schumacher made a bad mistake at Turn 11 after setting 17th time: the German had already had an indecision in the previous corners and then lost the Haas by crashing violently into the barriers on the left side of the track.
The race direction displayed the red flag which interrupted the session just over a quarter of an hour from the checkered flag. It remains to be seen if the team led by Gunther Steiner will be able to repair the VF-21 in time for the conclusion of Q1 since in the crash it could have damaged the transmission and the front left suspension was torn off and the rear one bent. Schumi’s son finished 19th, trimming Nikita Mazepin half a second: you can see the difference, but it’s costing the American team dearly …