F1 Hungaroring FP3 Results & Report: Vettel On Top Again in Final Practice

What Happens When You Need Wings

6:17am EST — Sebastian Vettel (1:21.168) was fastest in the final Saturday practice session for the 2011 Hungarian Grand Prix. He led after a late run on the super soft tires while Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Mark Webber, and Felipe Massa completed the fastest five during the sunny and warmer session. Lewis Hamilton was seventh fastest after issues into the first turn on both his fast runs on the softer tire.

Hamilton led both Friday practices, bettering his fast morning time by 2.2s in the afternoon session. Alonso was in the top three quickest in both sessions, moving up to second fastest after Vettel dropped to fifth fastest in the second. Both Red Bulls lost some top speed as the day progressed, with their fastest lap times unable to compare to either McLaren or Alonso. However, they maintained a faster pace as the runs got longer. Only Webber crashed in either session, losing the rear on a damp patch of fake grass and smashing his front wing off on the barrier in the morning session. He was able to return to the garage and lost only seventeen minutes of running time on the day. As has become routine in the most recent races, the top six were comprised of both drivers for McLaren, Ferrari, and Red Bull.

Interestingly, Red Bull worked beyond the 2am-8am curfew in the paddock Friday night for the first time this season. Each team is allowed four curfew violations before punishment is imposed on the fifth violation. According to former Benetton mechanic (and SPEEDtv commentator) Steve Matchett on Twitter, “Just followed up with Red Bull’s team manager…the chaps in Hungary were awaiting set-up data/simulation confirmation from the vehicle dynamics department back in Milton Keynes, England.”

Kovalainen and Glock were the first to leave the pit lane for the hour-long session, followed by a long stream of cars that included the entire field in the first two minutes of the session. The sky was sunny, with only light clouds but windy conditions. Only Petrov did two installation laps while the other twenty-three drivers remained in their garages after just one. D’Ambrosio was the first back out, with Kobayashi following a lap later. The Belgian’s first time was a 1:32.884, as Kobayashi soon bettered that by well over three seconds. Ferrari noted, “Nothing particular to report at the moment. It is just a matter of waiting a few more minutes to make the usual two runs, one on Primes the other one on Options.”

Only Kobayashi, Trulli, Kovalainen and D’Ambrosio had set times when the session was one-quarter over, though seven other drivers had joined them on the track. Glock was soon quicker than his teammate, with Perez slotting into second fastest as Kobayashi improved his times. Rosberg (1:24.464) was the next to go fastest, with his teammate going just one thousandth slower. Button (1:23.526), though, was nearly a full second faster than Rosberg on his own first hot lap, with the German dropping that gap down to three tenths as he gained grip on warmer tires. Button’s own improvements increased the gap again to eight tenths as Schumacher complained that he was losing the rear tires, about six or seven laps into his run.

Neither Alonso or Massa had gotten back into their cars with more than twenty minutes elapsed in the session. Vettel’s first time was good enough for only seventeenth and nearly six seconds off Button’s pace, though his secon improved to go fastest. Vettel (1:22.360) led Hamilton, Button, Webber, Rosberg, Schumacher, Alguersuari, Petrov, Buemi, and Maldonado as the top ten when twenty-five minutes had elapsed in the session. The times continued to drop as the track rubbered in more, and the ambient temperature was hotter than Friday. Neither Ferrari driver had yet set a time, though Alonso finally left the garage again, on the harder compound, with just over a half hour remaining.

Vettel had continued to improve his time as the halfway point approached, as did Hamilton. However, the Brit was still over six tenths off Vettel’s speed. The Red Bulls Hamilton, Trulli, D’Ambrosio, and the Ferraris were the only cars on track while Vettel (1:22.021) led Hamilton, Webber, Button, Rosberg, Schumacher, Algersuari, Barrichello, Petrov, and Buemi as the top ten. Massa’s second quick lap dropped him into fifth fastest while Alonso was fifteenth and possibly on a longer, race-simulation run.

The Spaniard improved to fourth fastest on his fifth or sixth run on those harder (soft compound) tires while the top three remained back in the garage. There were a lot of yellow and white sector times on the timing screen with over twenty minutes remaining, indicating that most drivers were looking at longer runs. However, Rosberg was not, improving his time and moving up to second fastest. He was still a half second off Vettel’s fastest time and possibly on the super soft tire. Vettel returned to the track with twenty minutes left, the first of the top eight to do so.

Some of the quickest drivers were about to head out for their qualifying simulation runs with fifteen minutes to go, as Vettel still led Rosberg, Hamilton, Webber, and Alonso as the top five. Vettel had not improved but still led by a half second. Ferrari joined the fray with thirteen minutes remaining, “Now it is time for a run os Options.” It wasn’t until nearly ten minutes remained that the bulk of the field was actually back out on the track. Webber gained time on Vettel and improved over Rosberg to take second, but it was Alonso (1:21.469) on the super softs who went fastest of all with ten to go. Massa soon joined him, a half second slower and barely faster than Vettel’s time.

Both Red Bulls remained in the garage with seven minutes remaining. Hamilton was out on a fast lap on his own set of the softer tire, but went well wide at the first turn, telling the team that “the breaks didn’t work.” Button was next to go fast, just under two tenths off Alonso’s time. Webber joined in with five minutes to go. “Fernando is completing his run with a practice start. He is currently quickest in 1.21.469 but we have to wait for the others cars running on Options,” tweeted Ferrari while Williams noted, “Rubens shaves nearly a second of his quickest time on first lap on supersoft tyres.”

Ferrari worked on saving tires, returning to the garage for the final minutes while Vettel shipped away at Alonso’s time, bettering it by three tenths. Hamilton was unable to post a proper fast time on the super soft tires as he again locked up into the first turn and ruined that set while Ferrari suggested, “Hamilton did not do a reasonable lap on Options so he remains a question mark. Sandbagging?” The session ended with some personal best sectors from Webber, but an inability to move up from fourth fastest, and a stunning lap from Vettel that did not improve his time.

Final Times for FP3, 2011 Hungarian Grand Prix:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:21.168 17
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:21.469 +0.301 13
3. Jenson Button McLaren 1:21.639 +0.471 14
4. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:21.645 +0.477 18
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:22.002 +0.834 14
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:22.534 +1.366 22
7. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:22.667 +1.499 14
8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:23.037 +1.869 19
9. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:23.175 +2.007 19
10. Paul di Resta Force India 1:23.276 +2.108 18
11. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:23.281 +2.113 13
12. Sergio Perez Sauber 1:23.375 +2.207 18
13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:23.626 +2.458 25
14. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:23.663 +2.495 17
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:23.894 +2.726 17
16. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:23.966 +2.798 18
17. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:23.998 +2.830 15
18. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1:25.061 +3.893 19
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1:25.141 +3.973 20
20. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:25.501 +4.333 20
21. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin Racing 1:26.955 +5.787 20
22. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1:26.991 +5.823 19
23. Timo Glock Virgin Racing 1:27.174 +6.006 16
24. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1:27.713 +6.545 20

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