Hungarian GP: Nicholas Latifi fastest for Williams in wet Practice Three ahead of qualifying

Nicholas Latifi tops a practice session for the first time in F1 as the Williams driver takes advantage of a drying track to top Charles Leclerc; Watch Hungarian GP Qualifying live on Sky Sports F1 from 2:30pm on Saturday

Last Updated: 7/30/22 1:57pm

Nicholas Latifi took advantage of the improving conditions in Hungary to set the fastest time of Practice Three!

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Nicholas Latifi took advantage of the improving conditions in Hungary to set the fastest time of Practice Three!

Nicholas Latifi took advantage of the improving conditions in Hungary to set the fastest time of Practice Three!

Nicholas Latifi sprung a major surprise as the Williams driver took advantage of a drying track to beat Charles Leclerc to the fastest time in final practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Ferrari’s Leclerc had topped the timesheet for much of the session, but during a frantic four-minute finale that followed a red flag triggered by Sebastian Vettel crashing into the barrier, Latifi was able to get his intermediate tires working extremely well.

It’s the first time Latifi, who is the only driver yet to score a World Championship point this season, has topped an F1 practice session, with his 1:41.480 beating Leclerc by 0.6s.

Alexander Albon underlined Williams’ ability in the wet, finishing third, while World Championship leader Max Verstappen was fourth despite opting to do far less running than the majority of drivers.

Sebastian Vettel finds the barrier at Turn 10 and brings out the red flag in Practice 3.

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Sebastian Vettel finds the barrier at Turn 10 and brings out the red flag in Practice 3.

Sebastian Vettel finds the barrier at Turn 10 and brings out the red flag in Practice 3.

Leclerc, who survived a scare of his own as he spun at Turn 3, appeared to maintain the advantage he had held over Red Bull in dry conditions on Friday, but an uncertain forecast for the remainder of Saturday sets up a potentially thrilling qualifying session.

Although George Russell climbed to fifth in the closing stages, Mercedes struggled to generate tire temperature in the damp and cooler conditions, with Lewis Hamilton down in 11th after repeating expressing frustration at his team’s performance.

Fernando Alonso – always a threat in wet conditions, was sixth for Alpine, ahead of the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz.

Intrigue builds in wet

After a heavy downpour shortly before the start of the session, it was unclear whether Practice Three would start on time, but the light at the end of the pit lane went green as scheduled and the Ferraris were the first cars to brave the conditions.

Leclerc swiftly shot to the top of the timesheet, seemingly in a league of his own. More rainfall then fell, preventing him – or anyone else – from improving the leading time.

Superb car control from Charles Leclerc at turn three to keep his car on the track after a big 360 spin!

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Superb car control from Charles Leclerc at turn three to keep his car on the track after a big 360 spin!

Superb car control from Charles Leclerc at turn three to keep his car on the track after a big 360 spin!

Alpine’s decision to experiment early with intermediate tires at one point appeared significant. As the rain eased the whole field moved away from full wets during the second half of the session.

Vettel, who at the time was showing reasonable speed in third, pushed too hard as the session entered its final 10 minutes and found the barrier at Turn 10, leaving his Aston Martin mechanics with a recovery job to carry out before qualifying.

The session resumed with four minutes remaining, leaving time for one more flying lap for those who wanted it, with Leclerc and Verstappen initially occupying the attention of most onlookers.

Pierre Gasly takes a spin in the closing stages of Practice 3.

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Pierre Gasly takes a spin in the closing stages of Practice 3.

Pierre Gasly takes a spin in the closing stages of Practice 3.

Verstappen went fastest, before Leclerc improved on that time by a full second, but then from nowhere, Latifi and Albon came through to take first and third.

While the result doesn’t add any points for Williams, who are bottom of the constructors’ standings with just three points, it brought rare smiles to their garage.

Regardless of the conditions, Leclerc, who trails Verstappen by 63 points in the World Championship after crashing out from the lead of last weekend’s French GP, will start qualifying as favourite.

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