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Nico Rosberg has held on to top spot in FP3 at the Hungaroring as Max Verstappen closes to within 0.002s of the Mercedes driver to set-up an intriguing qualifying session.
The German driver, targeting his maiden win in Hungary to hold on to his F1 championship lead, eased away from his chasing rivals with a new fastest lap of the weekend with a 1m 20.261s, but with teams slowly revealing their true pace the Red Bull of Verstappen leapt to the within a fraction of Mercedes.
Verstappen had spent the opening half of the session in the garage with a suspected technical issue but after resolving the problem he scythed up the timing screen and came so close to breaking the Mercedes dominance seen so far.
Daniel Ricciardo made it an impressive session all around for Red Bull in third but was cut adrift by almost half a second, with Lewis Hamilton – looking to make up for lost time after his FP2 off – being forced to settle for fourth after not producing a clean flying lap at the end of the session.
Track limits tested all of the F1 field, with focus at turns 4 and 11, and Hamilton was not alone in being picked up for exceeding the track.
Ferrari has remained in contention, with Kimi Raikkonen in fifth less than one-tenth back on Hamilton with Sebastian Vettel completing the top six challengers.
McLaren continued to head the tight midfield battle with Fernando Alonso in seventh, while Valtteri Bottas' trail with a new floor on his Williams looks to have been successful in P8 ahead of Sergio Perez and a resurgence from Renault with Jolyon Palmer 10th and Kevin Magnussen 12th.
Felipe Massa split the Renault drivers while Jenson Button slipped down the order to P13 but remained ahead of Haas duo Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean.
Carlos Sainz placed his Toro Rosso in P16 ahead of Nico Hulkenberg with Daniil Kvyat keeping clear of the Saubers and Manors.