Hamilton makes FP3 statement for Mercedes ahead of Verstappen

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton topped final practice ahead of qualifying for the 2023 Hungarian GP.

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Lewis Hamilton topped FP3 for the Hungarian GP, beating Max Verstappen by a quarter of a second, capping a strong 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix preparation for Mercedes after George Russell was quickest in FP1 on Friday.

In the final chance for teams to prepare for F1‘s new qualifying format on Saturday afternoon, scorching temperatures indicate getting the hard and medium tyres in the optimal window shouldn’t be a problem – but stopping the softs from overheating will.

That means traffic could be a struggle, with teams expecting to run multiple cooldown laps between flying laps.

Sergio Perez looked strong on the medium tyres, raising hopes that if he can get to the second session of qualifying, then he can finally break his five-race Q3 duck, and was just 0.013s behind Verstappen.

Sergio Perez of Red Bull during final practice ahead of 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

McLaren took FP3 slowly with Lando Norris waiting until nearly a quarter of the session had gone before heading out on track, but while they may not match the highs of Silverstone in Hungary, they still showed potential for qualifying.

Norris was fifth with a storming time on the medium tyre – he was the only driver in the top 10 not on the softs – and looks a good bet for at least making Q3. Teammate Oscar Piastri could only manage 14th.

The surprise of the session was Nico Hulkenberg in fourth, the German has had a fantastic 2023 season so far and is another one to watch come qualifying with Haas typically stronger on Saturdays, and Russell was sixth.

Aston Martin didn’t deliver as strongly as expected, with Fernando Alonso tenth and Lance Stroll twelfth, but will hope to improve for qualifying on a track they were optimistic about heading into the weekend.

With Andreas Seidl making a rare appearance in the Alfa Romeo garage, as he prepares the team for Audi‘s takeover in 2026, Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu looked good sitting in the top ten for much of the session.

However, they drifted late on finishing in 10th and 12th respectively, question marks remain over the team’s true pace.

Worrying omens for Ferrari

After Leclerc topped FP2, it was a step back for Ferrari on Saturday morning. They finished seventh and eighth led by the Monegasque, and with the mercury rising from Friday they look like they could be struggling with cooling.

They had more vents open on the engine cover and the SF-23 has been notoriously tough on its tyres.

With Mercedes and McLaren looking strong with Aston Martin capable of springing a surprise, the team will hope for a turnaround in the afternoon, particularly on the harder rubber used earlier in qualifying.

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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