FP3: Latifi, yes Latifi, tops an icy wet final practice hour

Michelle Foster
Nicholas Latifi goat silhouette. July 2022

Nicholas Latifi put in a late lap in improving conditions to top the timesheet in final practice for the Hungarian GP, a session in which Sebastian Vettel brought out the red flags.

The Formula 1 drivers arrived at the Hungaroring on Saturday with “fingers crossed” that there’d be some running, starting with the weekend’s final practice session.

Torrential rain in the hour prior to FP3 had everyone questioning that but no sooner had the rain eased than the track sweepers were out clearing the standing water.

They did such a good job that it took all of four minutes for the first car, Charles Leclerc, to venture out of the pits. A 1:43.3 for the Ferrari driver as one by one the rest of the field joined the action.

But not Lewis Hamilton, a Mercedes mechanics with a laser scanner checking the floor of his W13 – apparently an FIA routine check.

Such was the drainage of the track that Fernando Alonso was out on the inters after 10 minutes, but sliding quite a bit. Leclerc told Ferrari he agreed with the Alpine driver’s tyre choice as there was not much aquaplaning. Sainz, though, was worried it was “not worth the risk”.

As the rain came down harder, Leclerc pitted having told Ferrari that he did “not know if it’s worth to go out again. I mean yes I can go quite a bit quicker but on the other hand I am not sure we want.”

He was 0.9s up on Sainz with Vettel third ahead of Lance Stroll, Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo. Zhou Guanyu went flying off the track, Alex Albon reported aquaplaning and Mick Schumacher told Haas there was “a lot of standing water”, and then jumped up to third place.

Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were the only three not to do a single lap in the first half of the session.

As the rain again eased in the second half, Hamilton and Red Bull joined the action, although the Mercedes driver and his team-mate were not having a good time as they struggled to get temperature into their tyres, both drivers not happy with the lack of grip. Russell had a close encounter with a barrier, telling Mercedes his tyres are “so cold”.

Meanwhile Alonso’s car handling skills were on display as he pulled off one of the best saves of the season as his Alpine’s rear skipped away from him through Turn 3. Pierre Gasly wasn’t so lucky, shooting off the circuit, while Leclerc, back out on inters, did a near perfect 360.

He almost repeated it moments later with Schumacher summing it up to Haas, telling his team he was driving on “ice”.

Amazingly it wasn’t until the final 10 minutes of the session that the red flags were seen, waved for Vettel after he lost the rear end at Turn 10 and put his AMR22 backward into the barrier. A scream and a “sorry” followed that crash, the action resuming with four minutes on the clock and one final run for the drivers.

With the conditions much improved in the final minutes Nicholas Latifi, yes the Williams driver, went quickest with a 1:41.480. That put him 0.661s up on Leclerc with Alex Albon, the other Williams, P3.

Times

1 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:41.480 17 laps
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 0.661s 14 laps
3 Alex Albon Williams 0.901s 19 laps
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1.725s 10 laps
5 George Russell Mercedes 1.954s 13 laps
6 Fernando Alonso Alpine 2.090s 16 laps
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 2.109s 15 laps
8 Lando Norris McLaren 2.263s 13 laps
9 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 2.698s 14 laps
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas 3.175s 20 laps
11 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 3.352s 11 laps
12 Mick Schumacher Haas 3.676s 18 laps
13 Esteban Ocon Alpine 4.090s 17 laps
14 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 4.144s 11 laps
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 4.158s 17 laps
16 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing 4.211s 17 laps
17 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 4.370s 17 laps
18 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing 4.450s 20 laps
19 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 4.611s 18 laps
20 Sergio Perez Red Bull 6.760s 11 laps

 

Looking ahead to the Hungarian Grand Prix

The Hungarian Grand Prix is the final race before Formula 1's summer break.