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FP3 - Hamilton fastest in Budapest but field closes in

26 Jul 2014

Lewis Hamilton completed a clean sweep of practice sessions at the Hungaroring on Saturday morning, edging out Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg by just three hundredths of a second.

However, in cooler temperatures the field closed in on the dominant Silver Arrows, with less than nine tenths of a second covering the top eight.

Hamilton bounced to the top with 20 minutes remaining, and with the track temperature at 44 degrees Celsius compared to yesterday afternoon's 57, he lapped in 1m 25.682s on Pirelli's medium tyres. On the softs he pared that down to 1m 24.048s, a lap which at the time was almost half a second quicker than Nico Rosberg's best. In the closing stages, after Hamilton had pitted, Rosberg closed to within 0.047s with 1m 24.095s.

It was only the second time this season that a driver has topped all three practice sessions on a race weekend - the other occasion being Bahrain when again it was Hamilton in charge.

Behind the silver cars, an invigorated Sebastian Vettel was only 0.477s adrift of Hamilton as he took his Red Bull round in 1m 24.455s for third. Right at the very end, having vaulted from 15th to fifth, team mate Daniel Ricciardo improved further to 1m 24.678s to bump Valtteri Bottas down a place after the Finn had pushed his Williams to 1m 24.685s.

The Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen were next up on 1m 24.769s and 1m 24.818s respectively, with McLaren's Kevin Magnussen completing a lap of 1m 24.867s to ensure that the top eight drivers were within 0.819s of each other.

Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat showed their potential as they completed the top 10 for Toro Rosso with 1m 25.162s and 1m 25.170s apiece, then came Felipe Massa on 1m 25.231s, a disappointed Jenson Button on 1m 25.468s in the second McLaren, the improved Lotuses of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean on 1m 25.829s and 1m 25.859s, and the Saubers of Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez on 1m 25.934s and 1m 26.023s.

Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez might have demonstrated good race pace in FP2 yesterday, but could only muster 17th and 18th on 1m 26.035s and 1m 26.142s.

Kamui Kobayashi continued to keep his Caterham ahead of the Marussias, lapping in 1m 27.560s to Max Chilton's 1m 28.083s, team mate Marcus Ericsson's 1m 28.605s and Jules Bianchi's 1m 28.821s.

It was a slightly less frenetic session than FP3, but drivers were still slithering about as the circuit continued to yield little grip.

Hamilton, Rosberg, Kobayashi, Grosjean, Chilton, Ricciardo, Kvyat and Ericsson all had off-track moments as they pushed their cars to the limits of adhesion. Whether there is more grip in Saturday afternoon's qualifying session remains to be seen.