Felipe Massa topped an intriguing third practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of qualifying, but the big story was arguably the problems the teams were having making the 'super soft tyres' work around the Hungaroring.

All four title protagonists enjoyed stints at the top of the timesheets over the hour, but it was Massa's effort later on in the session that was enough to deny Fernando Alonso the top spot heading into qualifying.

Once again though the times were close and not just between the 'big four' with BMW, Williams and Toyota getting into the mix and making their presence felt amongst the favourites for pole position.

The fastest lap of the weekend, Massa's time of 1min 20.183secs proved over two tenths faster than Alonso, with Lewis Hamilton just marginally behind him as McLaren chose to conduct a relatively meagre 11 laps each to save on engine mileage. It also suggests McLaren are yet to show their complete hand heading into qualifying.

The question mark over the tyres though is likely to add another element to the weekend after many drivers complained the super soft tyres that will have to be used at some point in Sunday's race had a very short optimum life span, with graining becoming obvious after just a couple of laps. In addition, several drivers claim they were struggling to get any more pace out of them than the regular soft tyre that will also need to be used this weekend.

It particularly afflicted Robert Kubica, the Pole being heard over the radio that he was struggling for grip in his BMW on the way to the 12th fastest time, although his team-mate Nick Heidfeld fared much better, the German claiming the fourth fastest time in the closing stages.

Having topped the timesheets for much of the session, Kimi Raikkonen eventually slipped down the order to a relatively lacklustre fifth, the Finn almost six tenths off Massa.

Williams showed well with Nico Rosberg again comfortably inside the top ten in sixth place, while a strong late effort from Alex Wurz saw him scrape into the leading positions in tenth position. Between them was the Red Bull of Mark Webber in ninth, the Australian getting the car up at the front for the first time this weekend, and the two Toyotas, Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher spending much of the session trying to get their tyres to work in seventh and eighth.

Outside the top ten, Anthony Davidson did his hopes of making Q2 no harm at all with the eleventh fastest time, ahead of the ailing Kubica and Heikki Kovalainen, the Finn 13th best as Renault slid down the order from their strong position at the end of Friday. Team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella was 17th fastest.

David Coulthard, Takuma Sato and Vitantonio Liuzzi filled the void between the Renaults, with Jenson Button the best of the Hondas in a dismal 18th position. With Rubens Barrichello in 20th, it has all the markings of a long day for the reigning winners of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Elsewhere, Sebastian Vettel was 19th fastest, with the two Spykers 21st and 22nd, although it is worth noting Sakon Yamamoto spent much of the session just a tenth off Adrian Sutil before the German pulled out a half second gap in the latter stages. Nonetheless, both drivers are under four seconds off Massa's pace.



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