Several other drivers including Vettel and Hamilton had spins or wobbles during the course of the day as the drivers became accustomed to the demanding, dry and dusty low-grip circuit.
Hamilton triumphed in the desert that evening to beat Rosberg and win the second of his three championships. His confidence is high and reflected in the strength of the relationship with the team, with whom he admitted he expected to see out the rest of his career.
"I think it's hard to ever say it's a turning point", Hamilton, who could also equal Michael Schumacher's record haul of pole-positions this weekend, said after the British race.
Yet at the halfway point of the 20-race season, Bottas is in third place overall, 22 points behind Hamilton and 23 behind four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.
"But I'd like to see Budapest and how the vehicle works on a low-speed, high-temperature track, and then maybe we will have a more complete picture".
Vettel is only one point ahead of Hamilton in the standings after two calamitous tyre punctures at the crescendo of the recent British Grand Prix. The Briton acknowledged the efforts his team had made.
"But it s all about qualifying here at this track and we are in with a real chance if we can replicate today, again, tomorrow".
"But for now we are focusing on the race for tomorrow because it is going to be a long one and still anything is possible".
Lewis Hamilton will eventually tie Michael Schumacher's record of most number of pole positions in Formula 1, and will get past the F1 legend's tally of 68 too, just not at this year's Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.
Paul Di Resta was called in to drive Felipe Massa's Williams auto after the Brazilian driver was too unwell to take his seat.
Extracting the maximum is something he has done well at the Hungaroring.
A run of five straight podiums ended at the last race in Britain, but the 28 year old sits fourth in the drivers championship at the halfway mark of the season. Only six cars finished on the lead lap. The second serve, or lap, was less aggressive. It was a combative run that epitomised how he is able to make a charge at the Hungaroring.
"It's a little like a kart track writ large, and it rewards an attacking driving style".
Hamilton said he was not surprised by Ferrari's overnight leap in performance. "Saying that, I think we were very close to a win in Austria, I don't think we were lacking any speed there and that's only two races ago", he said.
"Last night it was probably more sure I was going to drive".
Mercedes have been struggling for pace all weekend and were a second or so off the Ferraris in final practice.