Latifi springs practice surprise to top final F1 practice
By Mat Coch
Saturday 30th July, 2022 - 10:16pm
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
|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|