Romain Grosjean has proved that he's very much on the pace at the tight and twisty 2.722-mile 14-turn Hungaroring this weekend, as he posted the fastest time in final practice on Saturday morning ahead of qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Grosjean's time was posted in the final minutes of the session which saw a flurry of fastest laps as the drivers mate a late switch to the soft compounds and instantly improved their times. Fernando Alonso took second place honours in the session and McLaren's Sergio Perez then put in an impressive lap to move up into third spot.
Unfortunately the smile did not last long on Perez' face, as an error from the driver on the next lap sent him spinning off into the gravel at turn 11 and into an impact with the barriers, meaning that the McLaren engineers will have a major repair job to do on the left hand side of the car in the short time remaining before qualifying gets underway.
It was a dramatic end to an hour-long session that had been slow getting going. The first flying lap wasn't set until seven minutes into the session when Charles Pic crossed the line with a lap of 1:30.044s in the Caterham, which he immediately improved by over five seconds on his next effort. It was over a quarter of the way into the session before the heavyweight contenders started to make their presence felt, with first Kimi Raikkonen and then his Lotus team mate Romain Grosjean swiftly lowering the bar to 1:22.345s.
That time stood to almost the halfway point of hour-long session, which saw Lewis Hamilton get to work in the Mercedes and take the top time down to 1:21.942s, which stood for the next 20 minutes until drivers decided to throw on a set of sort tyres for their final runs, at which point the timing screens went into a frenzy as drivers exceeded their previous times by a second or more whenever they were able to find a clear lap on the tight and twisty Hungaroring circuit.
When the dust settled, Romain Grosjean was sitting pretty on top of the timing screens having posted a lap of 1:20.730s, 0.168s ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, with an impressive lap from Sergio Perez putting the McLaren into third place ahead of Friday's pacesetter Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull.
Alonso's team mate Felipe Massa edged in front of Lewis Hamilton, who was ahead of both Red Bull's Mark Webber and his own team mate Nico Rosberg. McLaren's Jenson Button and Force India's Adrian Sutil rounded out the top ten, with Kimi Raikkonen edged out to 11th in the second Lotus just ahead of Pastor Maldonado in the Williams. In total, the top 12 all finished within a second of Grosjean's benchmark effort.
Perez' accident left local waved yellows around turn 11 which prevented any further improvements in the final minutes of the session, as Perez himself watched on forlornly from behind the barriers as he waited for his crumpled car to be retrieved and rushed back to pit lane.
Also in trouble in FP3 was Perez' compatriot Esteban Gutiérrez, who was unable to set a fast time at all during the session after his installation lap revealed a problem with his Sauber that required the team to break out the tools and prise open the back of the car for urgent repairs. The engine was the focus of activity, with a pre-qualifying rapid switch looking to be on the cards for the young Mexican.