The Hungaroring was dominated in the first practice overwhelmingly by Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton topping the timesheets nearly two seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who finished third.
The session began on a damp track from the overnight rain, luckily it dried fast, allowing the drivers to transition onto slicks from intermediate tyres, however there were still plenty of spins and run-offs.
It was a good session for McLaren, despite spins from both drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button on the damp track as they finished the session seventh and eighth fastest, ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Force India’s Sergio Perez.
Ferrari are feeling the pressure this weekend, with rival team Red Bull only six points behind in the Drivers’ Championship, as the red cars of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, finishing in third and fourth, were barely quicker than their Red Bull counterparts of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who, however, unlike the Ferrari’s and Mercedes’, did not use the faster supersoft tyre, only stuck to the softs.
As a change in ownership was announced earlier this week, securing their financial future, Sauber trialled a new rear wing on their cars in the session, with drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr finishing fifteenth and seventeenth.
As in the British Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc and Esteban Ocon returned, driving Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas and Kevin Magnussen’s Renault, with Leclerc finishing in a rather impressive sixteenth place, despite a spin at Turn 6, whilst Ocon finished the session in eighteenth.
A good start for Mercedes for their needed “flawless” weekend to secure a win, however we will be able to get a better picture of what the teams and drivers can really do here during the second practice session later.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg dominated the second free practice this afternoon, whilst teammate Lewis Hamilton finished in fifth after colliding with the tyre wall after just four laps, putting him out of completing the rest of the session.
It was only fifteen minutes into the session when the red flags were brought out, as Hamilton had slid sideways and collided with the tyre wall on Turn eleven, after loosing control of his car. Despite the collision looking particularly harsh and being recorded at over 10G’s, the car appeared to have minimal external damage. Hamilton also took a precautionary trip to the medical centre, but was soon released with no injuries. It is yet to be known if the collision did any damage to his gearbox in particular or not.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished second behind Rosberg, followed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, the two managing to get within a second of Rosberg.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was sitting in the garage for the majority of the session, as the team had to fit a new power unit into his car due to the fact the floor was damaged. Luckily, concerns with the car’s reliability did not bother the Spaniard whilst he was on track, with him and his teammate Jenson Button finishing behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in seventh and eighth position.
Renault’s Jolyon Palmer was yet again hampered with technical issues with his car, only enabling him to go out on track as the session was drawing to a close. He finished the session in nineteenth.
As with the first practice session, the second one saw a large amount of drivers run wide yet again as they pushed the limits of the track and their cars in order to boost their times to the top of the timesheets. At Turn four, Vettel, Rosberg, Pascal Wehrlein, Rio Haryanto, Nico Hulkenberg, Max Verstappen, Kevin Magnussen, Sergio Perez, Daniil Kvyat, Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean and Marcus Ericsson all ran wide, with Haryanto spinning his car at Turn five also, and Verstappen and Grosjean having precarious moments at the first turn.
Sauber’s Felipe Nasr stopped the session early, by unexpectedly pulling to the side of the track at Turn two, due to technical problems, which the team are still trying to rectify.
Two drivers are under investigation: Valterri Bottas and Carlos Sainz. Bottas failed to keep right of a cone marking the entry to the pit lane, and Sainz crossed the pit entry line.