Sebastian Vettel closed out Formula 1's final leg of in-season testing for 2017 at the Hungaroring at the top of the timesheets on a day that saw Robert Kubica and Lando Norris star for Renault and McLaren respectively.

Kubica gave a convincing indication that he has the pace to return to F1 competitively after impressing in his first group test since 2010, while 17-year-old Norris also emerged as a star performance in Hungary by almost upstaging Vettel at the head of the field.

Driving a 2017 specification Renault RS17 for the first time following private outings in 2012 car, Kubica successfully notched more than two race distances in an effort to test the compromised arm he injured severely in a rallying accident more than six years ago.

Appearing to lap quickly and consistently, Kubica worked on both long stints and quick runs, with a late ultra-soft effort of 1:18.572 landing him fourth on the timesheets.

The test comes amid rumours Kubica could be lined up for a sensational comeback as early as the Belgian Grand Prix later this month to replace the underperforming Jolyon Palmer. Alternatively, the test could encourage Renault to go ahead and secure Kubica’s services for 2018 and allow the Pole to spend the remainder of the year fully focused on his fitness.

Despite his star turn, Kubica’s efforts were still very nearly overshadowed by a similarly eye-catching performance by highly-rated McLaren junior Norris, who ended the day just two-tenths of a second shy of F1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel, whose morning effort of 1:17.124 was enough to stay firm at the top for the remainder of the day.

The first time Norris has driven a 2017 specification car, though the European F3 star enjoyed several ultra-soft runs in the afternoon at the wheel of the McLaren MCL32, and spent the day taking sizeable chunks off his personal best with each outing.

Norris was sandwiched between two Ferraris in the final classification, Kimi Raikkonen taking over in the afternoon to go third quickest, 0.7s off Vettel’s top time, ahead of Kubica.

Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat followed in fifth and sixth having shared driving duties for Toro Rosso, ahead of Force India’s Lucas Auer, while George Russell brought two days of maiden testing with Mercedes to a solid close in eighth having earlier given the revised Halo a run out.

Nikita Mazepin drove the Force India in the humid afternoon session to ninth, ahead of Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly, Williams’ Luca Ghiotto, Haas’ Santino Ferrucci and Sauber’s Nobuharu Matsushita.

 

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