Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2016

Rosberg fastest but Red Bull match Mercedes pace

2016 Hungarian Grand Prix third practice

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Nico Rosberg topped the final practice session ahead of qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but Mercedes will be wary of the Red Bull threat after Max Verstappen almost matched the Mercedes benchmark.

The Red Bull driver was just two thousands of a second slower than Rosberg after final preparations for this afternoon’s qualifying session, while Daniel Ricciardo went quicker than Lewis Hamilton.

In a dry, warm session, there was little in the way of drama or problems that hit many drivers in yesterday’s sessions. Track limits were a considerable issue, however, with Esteban Gutierrez and Lewis Hamilton just two of the drivers who had times deleted for exceeding the exit of turn four.

With the final pre-qualifying runs in the closing minutes and all cars on super-soft tyres, Rosberg lowered the fastest lap of the weekend so far with a 1’20.261, but Max Verstappen stunned many by producing a lap time that was only two thousands of a second off the Mercedes’s benchmark.

Daniel Ricciardo was almost half a second adrift, but produced a quicker time than Lewis Hamilton who was playing catch-up after his second session crash yesterday.

Ferrari were closer too, with Kimi Raikkonen’s time less than a tenth slower than Hamilton’s and Ricciardo’s. McLaren-Honda backed up their promising pace with Fernando Alonso in seventh, but Jenson Button could only manage the 13th-quickest time after complaining of further rear-end instability.

Renault too showed promise heading into qualifying, with Jolyon Palmer in the top ten and Kevin Magnussen in 12th.

The key question is now how much pace the Mercedes duo have left in reserve as the Red Bulls appear to be uncomfortably close around the Hungaroring.

PositionDriverTeamLap time
1Nico RosbergMercedes1’20.261
2Max VerstappenRed Bull1’20.263
3Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’20.726
4Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’20.769
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’20.859
6Sebastian VettelFerrari1’21.185
7Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’21.584
8Valtteri BottasWilliams1’21.649
9Sergio PerezForce India1’21.672
10Jolyon PalmerRenault1’21.935
11Felipe MassaWilliams1’21.975
12Kevin MagnussenRenault1’21.989
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’22.009
14Esteban GutierrezHaas1’22.142
15Romain GrosjeanHaas1’22.284
16Carlos SainzToro Rosso1’22.402
17Nico HulkenbergForce India1’22.427
18Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’22.541
19Felipe NasrSauber1’22.816
20Marcus EricssonSauber1’23.219
21Pascal WehrleinManor1’23.311
22Rio HaryantoManor1’23.513

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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7 comments on “Rosberg fastest but Red Bull match Mercedes pace”

  1. Are we witnessing a changing of the guards? Verstappen competing for P1 with Rosberg and Hamilton struggling with his car on P4 ?

    1. @dutch-1 Surely an impressive lap from VMax but we don’t know how pace does Merc have in reserve. Just like many, I too hope for a climatic Q3 rather than anti climatic.

  2. I really believe Red Bull can be on pole, race win however seems possible but I fear being in front is a requirement to beat the Mercedes cars. Ferrari fast enough to be 5th and 6th, if Alonso manages 7th he’s DOTW.

    1. @xtwl You shouldn’t. Mercedes improves drastically from Q1 to Q2. And Verstappen did his FLAP on a 3-lap stint while Rosberg and Hamilton did theirs on 8-lap stints. That could be a 0.04*5=0.2s difference from fuel effect alone.

      But at least Mercedes will not entirely sweep the floor with Red Bull that’s a minor positive already.

  3. McLaren 4th fastest car? C’mon guys, you can do it!

    1. You want to believe. As I’ve said the resurfacing of many tracks this season has given McLaren a few chances to work on their strengths, nevertheless they will be as in pretty much every track fighting for a q3 spot and hoping for dnfs on Sunday, it could be Monza the story would be the same with the exception for race pace, in the end their car is just as lacklustre on both sides of the garage.

  4. I still think there’s something fishy with Mercedes. You can visually denote that their car hasn’t got the support on high and medium speed corners yet the car looks so light and responsive and quick on the time-sheets, I think Mercedes still has the measure of RB. Ferrari tends to improve on the current spec engines, you quit hearing that cylinder cutting, and you immediately see better traction, that said Ferrari look out of the groove, there’s something amiss with them, they were genuinely good on high speed at Barcelona yet they were nowhere at Silverstone and not that impressive in Hungary either.

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