Webber heads tight final practice in Hungary
28 July 2012 – Mark Webber, the Hungarian Grand Prix winner of 2010, has topped the timesheets in Saturday practice ahead of qualifying. The Red Bull driver was less than a tenth of a second quicker than Lewis Hamilton, with Sebastian Vettel completing the top three. Way down the order, Mercedes look to be struggling as qualifying looms.
Once again, practice brought a relatively incident-free hour after the green pit exit light illuminated at 11 o’clock. The weather remains warm and bright and is expected to do so for the rest of the day, but there is a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms for tomorrow.
One of the key points in the session was Ferrari’s prolonged absence in the opening stages. Following an initial installation lap to check the car over, Fernando Alonso did not reappear until some 25 minutes of the period had passed. The strategy, which was shadowed by team-mate Felipe Massa, shows a real air of confident from the Italian team and its programme.
Nico Rosberg was first to post a lap time, but both he and Michael Schumacher are making no real impression – a fear highlighted by the latter when he admitted on Friday that rain would come as a relief. The elder of the two Mercedes drivers was the quicker, but his best effort was 1.3 seconds off the pace – Webber’s lap time of 1:21.550.
Hamilton demonstrated far better potential in his Mercedes-powered vehicle, ending the session only 93 thousandths of a second down on Webber. The margins have been just as tight since practice began on Friday morning and, with such a short circuit on offer, they should continue to do so and this promises a closely-fought qualifying session this afternoon.
During the session, a number of drivers – such as Vettel and Romain Grosjean – were seen to push the limits of the track. The FIA’s Charlie Whiting has repeatedly warned the field that, should they continue to take too many liberties, penalties will be brought into force.
Qualifying in Hungary starts at 2pm local time (BST +1) and can also be tracked through the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Report