McLaren continued its strong start to a 2009 grand prix weekend, with Lewis Hamilton returning to the top of the timesheets as free practice finished in the build-up to qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The reigning world champion reprised his FP2 performance by posting a fastest lap one full second faster than he had managed on Friday, clocking 1min 21.009secs to head the field by a fraction under four-tenths.
While a McLaren at the front is not a surprise this weekend, with both cars running the same upgrade package as Hamilton debuted at the Nurburgring, the order behind the Briton was a little unusual, with Nick Heidfeld and Sebastien Buemi both featuring in the top five as the teams followed different programmes in preparation for qualifying and the race.
Heidfeld claimed second spot for the troubled BMW Sauber team, slotting in ahead of Friday pacesetters Nico Rosberg and Heikki Kovalainen, while Buemi rounded out the top five to deprive the likes of Timo Glock, Felipe Massa, Kazuki Nakajima and the two Red Bulls a place in the leading quintet. Kovalainen appeared to be the only man capable of beating Hamilton in the closing stages, but made an error at the final turn to settle for fourth.
Glock's appearance in sixth was surprising only because the German had had to sit out much of the hour-long session with a hydraulic problem that had his Toyota up on jacks in the garage, while Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel down in ninth and tenth was surprising only because many had tipped them to continue setting the pace.
Title rival Brawn was worse off in terms of timesheet position, with Rubens Barrichello 13th and Jenson Button 17th, but the team did not appear concerned, with both driver happier with the performance of the BGP001 and apparently working towards the third phase of qualifying where race fuel loads play a part.
Jamie Alguersuari's adaptation to F1 continued with 18th place for Toro Rosso, the Spaniard now only 1.3secs off the pace and ahead of both Force India entries, the Silverstone team facing a busy lunch break after Adrian Sutil shunted at turn eight and damaged the front of his car. Team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella also had off-road moments but, in general, the incident list was shorter as the track offered up more grip despite overnight rain reducing the effect of Friday's running.