Sebastian Vettel set a searing pace in final practice at Budapest on Saturday morning, setting a new outright circuit record as he lapped half a second quicker than Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen and nearly a second faster than Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas.
Running the supersoft tyres Vettel trimmed down to 1m 17.017s, smashing Rubens Barrichello’s 2004 record by 1.4s. Raikkonen was 0.475s slower, on 1m 17.492s, while Bottas was 0.897s back with 1m 17.914s.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and the other Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton were over a second adrift of the German in fourth and fifth, with the latter looking especially scrappy on the red-marked rubber.
However, both managed considerably more running than Friday pacesetter Daniel Ricciardo who, having stayed put in the garage for the first part of the session, was just beginning to look a bit menacing when his car suffered some sort of shutdown and stopped after he had worked down to 1m 18.714s on supersofts.
McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg continued to impress as they jumped ahead of Ricciardo into sixth and seventh respectively, with their team mate’s Fernando Alonso and Jolyon Palmer completing the top ten.
In contrast to Friday’s sessions, there were relatively few off-track moments, with Haas’s Romain Grosjean the only spinner.
Williams’ Felipe Massa meanwhile, still feeling unwell after suffering symptoms in FP2 on Friday, climbed out of his car after just 12 laps and will take no further part in the weekend.
His seat will be taken by Williams’ reserve driver Paul di Resta who last started a Grand Prix back in 2013.
Now we wait to see whether Ferrari will have it all their own way in qualifying, or whether Mercedes can muster stability and pace and Red Bull can rediscover yesterday’s mojo.