Latifi springs practice surprise to top final F1 practice

Nicholas Latifi

A late lap in drying conditions saw Nicholas Latifi go fastest in final practice for the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Canadian logged the lap as the chequered flag flew, the track in the best condition it had been throughout the 60-minute session.

In doing so, he bumped Charles Leclerc from top spot, the Ferrari driver had been fastest throughout, while Alex Albon was third best in the second Williams.

Forecasted rain arrived prior to the session commencing, dissuading most teams from heading out on track immediately.

Ferrari was among the few who did venture out in the opening five minutes, with both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz taking to the track on the full wet tyres.

Fernando Alonso was the only driver to have the intermediate tyres fitted in the early stages, a decision Leclerc concurred with over the radio to his team despite being the initial pace setter, his best a 1:43.364s.

Across the garage, Sainz argued that, while the intermediate tyres could perhaps deal with the conditions, he didn’t want to take the risk of crashing.

Alonso’s best was still some way off Leclerc’s pace, the Alpine still 2.4s away from the ultimate pace after 15 minutes.

Conditions were only worsening, prompting a number of drivers to climb back out of their cars, including Lewis Hamilton who was yet to leave the garage 20 minutes into proceedings.

That coincided with reports from Albon that he was beginning to experience aquaplaning at points around the circuit.

Hamilton did eventually head out at the halfway point, full wets still the order of the day despite the rain having stopped though standing water remained an issue in places.

As if the emphasise that, Pierre Gasly had a spin at Turn 7 to briefly draw double waved yellow flags.

While Leclerc’s early lap remained fastest, Sebastian Vettel went second best with 25 minutes remaining, the Aston Martin driver recording a 1:44.178s.

From there, conditions began to ease and soon Alonso ventured back out on a set of intermediate tyres.

Others following suit, including Max Verstappen who headed out for the first time in the session.

On the shallower-grooved, Leclerc pirouetted exiting Turn 4, doing well to keep the Ferrari out of the wall.

George Russell also did well to avoid crashing, the Brit clearly struggling for grip on the full wet tyres as he skated off at Turn 12.

Both Mercedes drivers had complained of a lack of grip, which the team suggested related to tyre temperature particularly on the rear axle.

Conditions continued to improve, Alonso recording session-best sectors with 10 minutes remaining to set a 1:43.570s, a time just 0.2s away from Leclerc’s marker set almost as Practice 3 began.

With nine minutes remaining, Vettel found the barrier at Turn 10 – the left-hand kink on the run back towards the pits – to draw the red flag.

The German lit up the rear end on approach to the corner, the car stepping out before skating off the road, through the gravel, and into the tyres.

It was comparatively low speed impact, though Vettel’s reaction over the radio suggested it was driver error.

The stricken Aston Martin was cleared with enough time for four minutes of running.

Most were tempted out, with a number of personal bests including from Leclerc, who set a new session best of 1:42.141s.

However, Nicholas Latifi then completed an even better lap to top the session with a 1:41.480s, while his Williams team-mate Albon was third with 1:42.381s.

It was then Verstappen, Russell, and Alonso, though times were largely irrelevant due to the ever-changing conditions.

The inclement weather is expected to remain, even if conditions did improve late in final practice, as teams now prepare for qualifying, that session getting underway at midnight.

Results: Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix, Free Practice 3

Pos Num Driver Team Laps Time Diff
1 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing 17 1:41.480
2 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Ferrari 13 1:42.141 +0.661s
3 23 Alex Albon Williams Racing 18 1:42.381 +0.901s
4 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 9 1:43.205 +1.725s
5 63 George Russell Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 13 1:43.434 +1.954s
6 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team 15 1:43.570 +2.090s
7 55 Carlos Sainz Scuderia Ferrari 14 1:43.589 +2.109s
8 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team 12 1:43.743 +2.263s
9 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin F1 Team 14 1:44.178 +2.698s
10 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team 19 1:44.655 +3.175s
11 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG F1 Team 11 1:44.832 +3.352s
12 47 Mick Schumacher Haas F1 Team 17 1:45.156 +3.676s
13 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team 16 1:45.570 +4.090s
14 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team 10 1:45.624 +4.144s
15 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin F1 Team 16 1:45.638 +4.158s
16 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo F1 Team 17 1:45.691 +4.211s
17 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri 16 1:45.850 +4.370s
18 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo F1 Team 20 1:45.930 +4.450s
19 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri 17 1:46.091 +4.611s
20 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 10 1:48.240 +6.760s

Join the discussion below in the Speedcafe.com comments section

Please note: Speedcafe.com reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]