Williams’ Nicholas Latifi profited from a rapidly improving track at the end of a wet-drying session to top the timesheets in final practice for the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished second, 0.6s off the Canadian, and Alex Albon was third in the other Williams FW44.
Heavy rain in advance of final practice meant conditions at the start of the one-hour session were treacherous but Leclerc was one of the first on track and he was joined, four minutes into the session, by Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz. Both were on full wet tyres.
It was Sainz who established the early benchmark with a lap of 1:45.569, well over 20s down on Friday’s best times in dry conditions. Lerclerc soon took over at the top with a lap of 1:43.364 as the rain began to stop and that prompted Alpine’s Fernando Alonso to test the conditions on green-banded intermediate tyres.
The two-time champion’s efforts were not wholly successful but after moving to seventh, some 4.5s off the pace, he then improved significantly to move to third behind Sainz, 2.4s off leader Leclerc.
Aston Martin due Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll, both on full wets, then improved to dislodge Alonso, with Vettel 2.2s off Leclerc and Stroll a further two tenths back. Then, with the first third of the session complete, the rain began to intensify.
It led to a five-minutes lull in improvements but then Haas’ Mick Schumacher took the track on full wets and despite reporting “a lot of standings water” the German jumped up to third place, 1.7s off the pace.
As the session reached the halfway mark the rain began to ease off and Vettel promptly moved to second thanks to a lap of 1:44.178 that left him +0.8s behind Leclerc. McLaren’s Lando Norris then took his McLaren to fourth, + 1.2s behind thanks to a lap of 1:44.635.
There was no sign of either Red Bull Racing driver in the opening phases of the session but with a little under 20 minutes left on the clock both Max Versatppen and Sergio Pérez joined the action. And while Pérez struggled in the conditions, before eventually retiring to his garage for tweaks, Verstappen, after some exploratory laps, made his way to P9 with a lap of 1:45.232 that left him 1.8s off Leclerc.
With 11 minutes left, Alonso jumped up to second on intermediate tyres, just 0.206s off Leclerc’s wet-tyre benchmark, but there the improvements halted.
With nine minutes remaining Vettel lost the rear of his Aston Martin on the run to Turn 10 and he spun through the gravel trap and into the barriers bringing out the red flags.
The session was stopped for five minutes while the German’s car was recovered and with the sun shining and the track drying quickly, it was clear that when the green lights were shown, the final four minutes would offer up considerable improvements.
And it was Latifi who made the most of the conditions. Verstappen jumped to P1 with a lap of 1:43.205 in the final moments, Leclerc pushed past that with a lap of 1:42.141, over a second better, and then Albon split the championship leaders with a lap of 1:42.381.
Latifi, though, was the last man to cross the line and in the rapidly improving conditions he eclipsed them all with a lap of 1:41.480, 0.661 clear of Leclerc.
Behind the top four, George Russell was fifth for Mercedes ahead of Alonso, while Sainz finished seventh ahead of Norris, Vettel and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.
2022 FIA Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:41.480 17 155.415
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:42.141 0.661 14 154.410
3 Alexander Albon Williams/Mercedes 1:42.381 0.901 19 154.048
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:43.205 1.725 10 152.818
5 George Russell Mercedes 1:43.434 1.954 13 152.479
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:43.570 2.090 16 152.279
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:43.589 2.109 15 152.251
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:43.743 2.263 13 152.025
9 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:44.178 2.698 14 151.390
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:44.655 3.175 20 150.700
11 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:44.832 3.352 11 150.446
12 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:45.156 3.676 18 149.982
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:45.570 4.090 17 149.394
14 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:45.624 4.144 11 149.318
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:45.638 4.158 17 149.298
16 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:45.691 4.211 17 149.223
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Red Bull 1:45.850 4.370 17 148.999
18 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:45.930 4.450 20 148.887
19 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Red Bull 1:46.091 4.611 18 148.661
20 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:48.240 6.760 11 145.709