Belgian Bertrand Baguette ended Friday's second practice session at the Hungaroring at the head of the Formula Renault 3.5 timing screens.
The Draco driver had resisted the urge to dip into his new tyre allocation in the opening session this morning, but showed his true form by setting the fastest time of 1m32.708s.
Fellow title protagonist Marcos Martinez finished just over 0.4 seconds down on his nearest rival in the standings. The Spaniard enjoys a four point advantage over Baguette at the top of the championship.
"We were quick on old tyres, and now quickest on new tyres," said Baguette. "I'm pleased because over the last few races at Spa, Monaco and now here, we have been consistently on the pace. Each of those circuits has a very different character, so I am confident we have found a good set-up after all of our problems in Barcelona.
"Marcos is close once again. I think the championship is looking as if it will be between me, Marcos, [James] Walker and perhaps [Miguel] Molina."
Monaco winner Oliver Turvey had been another to restrain from using fresh rubber this morning, and posted the third fastest time for Carlin Motorsport.
Fairuz Fauzy (Mofaz Fortec) was quickest for much of the session before being demoted to fourth place, just 0.032s adrift of Turvey. The top six was completed by South African Adrian Zaugg (Interwetten) and Red Bull Formula 1 reserve driver Brendon Hartley (Tech 1).
This morning's pacesetter, Charles Pic, finished in eighth, one place ahead of Briton Jon Lancaster who continued his respectable start to his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 weekend.
Spa winner Walker was penalised 15 minutes of track time for using a set of tyres outside his designated allocation, while Arden GP2 driver Edoardo Mortara brought out the red flags following an off-track excursion with five minutes of the session remaining.
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Bertrand Baguette Draco 1m32.708s
2. Marcos Martinez Pons 1m33.135s + 0.427s
3. Oliver Turvey Carlin 1m33.214s + 0.506s
4. Fairuz Fauzy Fortec 1m33.246s + 0.538s
5. Adrian Zaugg Interwetten 1m33.384s + 0.676s
6. Brendon Hartley Tech 1 1m33.427s + 0.719s
7. Miguel Molina Ultimate 1m33.549s + 0.841s
8. Charles Pic Tech 1 1m33.550s + 0.842s
9. Jon Lancaster Comtec 1m33.587s + 0.879s
10. Jaime Alguersuari Carlin 1m33.722s + 1.014s
11. John Martin Comtec 1m33.886s + 1.178s
12. James Walker P1 1m34.054s + 1.346s
13. Daniil Move P1 1m34.382s + 1.674s
14. Marco Barba Draco 1m34.482s + 1.774s
15. Michael Herck Interwetten 1m34.492s + 1.784s
16. Chris van der Drift Epsilon Euskadi 1m34.699s + 1.991s
17. Filip Salaquarda Prema 1m34.790s + 2.082s
18. Adrian Valles Epsilon Euskadi 1m34.806s + 2.098s
19. Greg Mansell Ultimate 1m34.953s + 2.245s
20. Sten Pentus Fortec 1m34.962s + 2.254s
21. Edoardo Mortara SG 1m34.974s + 2.266s
22. Pasquale di Sabatino RC 1m35.495s + 2.787s
23. Anton Nebylitskiy SG 1m35.666s + 2.958s
24. Julian Leal Prema 1m35.859s + 3.151s
25. Mihai Marinescu RC 1m36.027s + 3.319s
26. Federico Leo Pons 1m36.066s + 3.358s