Nicholas Latifi, Williams, Hungaroring, 2022

Latifi stuns by topping wet final practice after Vettel crashes

2022 Hungarian Grand Prix third practice

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Nicholas Latifi went fastest overall in the dying moments of a wet third practice session at the Hungaroring.

The Williams driver beat Charles Leclerc’s previous benchmark time by six tenths of a second quicker on his final lap on a drying track, putting him on top in a practice session fastest for the first time in his F1 career. Latifi’s team mate Alexander Albon was third, one place ahead of Max Verstappen.

The promised heavy rain for Saturday arrived over the Hungaroring just 45 minutes before the third and final practice session was due to begin. Unsurprisingly, the track was soaked when the green light appeared at the end of the pitlane, but there was no active rain falling as the session began.

Drivers were in no rush to take to the treacherous track, until the two Ferraris of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr ventured out, both on the wet tyres. Eventually more cars trickled onto the track, Fernando Alonso taking the unique decision to head out on intermediate tyres.

Leclerc was the quickest car on the sodden surface in the early minutes of the session, ahead of team mate Sainz. Alonso was as high as third fastest on his intermediate tyres before the two Aston Martins of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll beat his best time by a matter of tenths on their wet tyres.

With the rain picking up again, the level of water on track increased. Alonso abandoned his intermediate tyre run and returned to the pits. Only the two Alfa Romeos, two Williams and Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri continued to circulate on the heavily wet track. Gradually cars returned to the pits until only the two Haas of Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher remained.

Around halfway into the session, the rain had started to ease off again. That prompted more cars out on the track, including Lewis Hamilton, who headed out onto the track for the first time in the hour. Drivers began to improve for the first time since the early runs, with Sebastian Vettel moving to second in the times in the Aston Martin.

The track was still difficult, however, with Pierre Gasly having a 360-degree spin exiting the chicane in the middle sector before continuing. George Russell headed out on the track on intermediates, but abandoned his run after complaining of a lack of grip.

As the track began to slowly dry, drivers all switched to the intermediate tyres for the final 20 minutes as they grew more confident with the grip levels. However, the water on track still required respect as Leclerc found out when he spun his car through a full rotation on the exit of turn three – fortunately avoiding the barriers.

Russell slipped off the track under braking for turn 12 but continued, while Verstappen complained about the lack of grip he was finding from the intermediates. But Vettel was struggling more than Verstappen for grip and, with nine minutes remaining, the Aston Martin driver lost the rear of his car entering turn ten, skidding into the outside tyre barrier.

The session was stopped with the red flags while the Aston Martin was freed out of the gravel trap. After a delay of a few minutes, the session restarted with just under four minutes remaining. The majority of the field chose to head back out for a handful of laps before qualifying, with the track as dry as it had been for the final hour. Leclerc and Verstappen both improved on their final efforts, with Leclerc a full second faster than the Red Bull to lower his own personal best time.

That appeared to settle matters, until Nicholas Latifi suddenly began setting purple sector times in the Williams on his final lap. Latifi crossed the line to set a 1’41.480, which was quick enough to see him jump right to the top of the times, over six tenths faster than Leclerc. Latifi’s team mate Alexander Albon also improved dramatically and jumped to third position, nine tenths behind Latifi.

The chequered flag flew and ensured that Latifi finished top of an official timed Formula 1 session for the first time in his career. Leclerc ended the hour in second, with Albon third and Verstappen in fourth, over a second slower than Leclerc’s Ferrari. Russell was fifth for Mercedes, ahead of Alonso, Sainz and Norris.

Despite crashing out, Vettel sat ninth in the timings at the chequered flag. Magnussen was the last of the top 10, one place ahead of Hamilton.

2022 Hungarian Grand Prix third practice result

PositionNumberDriverTeamModelTimeGapLaps
16Nicholas LatifiWilliams-MercedesFW441’41.48017
216Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’42.1410.66114
323Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’42.3810.90119
41Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’43.2051.72510
563George RussellMercedesW131’43.4341.95413
614Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’43.5702.09016
755Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’43.5892.10915
84Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’43.7432.26313
95Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’44.1782.69814
1020Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’44.6553.17520
1144Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’44.8323.35211
1247Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’45.1563.67618
1331Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’45.5704.09017
143Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’45.6244.14411
1518Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’45.6384.15817
1624Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’45.6914.21117
1722Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’45.8504.37017
1877Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’45.9304.45020
1910Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’46.0914.61118
2011Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’48.2406.76011

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2022 Hungarian Grand Prix

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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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10 comments on “Latifi stuns by topping wet final practice after Vettel crashes”

  1. Old Red Eyes
    30th July 2022, 13:27

    True talent shines in the wet.

    Reply moderated
  2. Only practice, but Latifi in P1 is still a decent achievement.

  3. Latifi goes fastest in an official F1 session! Who would’ve thought?! That’s just brilliant 😂

    That was kind of a weird session, because it dried up pretty slowly and it took the inter runners a lot of time to get up to speed. The drivers needed at least 5 laps to beat their times on the full wets.
    Mercedes struggled a lot to get enough temperature into the tyres for most part of the session and even at the end it didn’t look great.
    I don’t understand why RB haven’t given Pérez more laps in the wet. They know he already struggles with the car and his wet weather performances have been pretty poor as well. So why haven’t they given him more track time in FP3?! Were they afraid he would bin it and destroy the chassis?!
    The fact that Leclerc is fast in the wet as well is a great sign for Ferrari. But Verstappen doesn’t need to worry anyway. He’s got such a big lead that he can afford just finishing P3 for a couple of races.

  4. I hope this is a sign that the Williams will go well here if the changing conditions continue. I’m not expecting pole, but top ten would be a brilliant result.

    1. Dot Com, I too would like to see Williams in the points, though my reason is because in F1, points means a bigger share of the prize money pot. Teams at the low end of the F1 grid need all the money they can get to build a better car next year and to make the sport more competitive. To be honest, I would rather see each team receiving the same amount of money, not based on points scored. Whether they win or finish last, they are all necessary to make it a viable race, and they all have to pay for engines, tyres, etc. I’m sure there was a time when there were so many cars on the grid that they had to eliminate some during qualifying, and some of the entries were so poor that they came up with the 107% rule to stop people entering pieces of junk, and still you had cars getting lapped eight times in a race. That’s no longer the case. All the cars on the grid deserve to be there. Today, the difference in Q1 between the cars was Hamilton in p1 in 78.37 and Latifi in p20 with a time of 79.57. That’s just 1% difference.

  5. Err well done but don’t let him get any ideas. He’s overstayed his F1 experience by a long way and needs to go asap. Same with Vettel he’s just not in it anymore and would be better off retiring after this race.

  6. They’re saying it’s likely to be full dry qualifying now so possibly just back to the status quo when they qualify.

    1. From hero to zero? Yeah, if it’s bone dry it won’t be a great qualy for Williams, but still… for them to lead a practice session is a first I believe.

        1. not in Williams’ history of course, but for the last 6-7 years or so I’m not sure they ever finished a FP in top 3.

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