Lewis Hamilton was fastest by a tenth and a half over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the first practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver set his fastest time on the soft tyres to edge slightly ahead of the Dutchman and the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel who was a thousandth behind.
This weekend is shaping up to be a close battle between both Mercedes and Red Bull, Hamilton has been well aware that this circuit favours Red Bull’s aerodynamics package and that is always key in Budapest. The trio was covered by just over a tenth and half around the 2.7-mile circuit as Pierre Gasly completed the top four.
Verstappen, meanwhile, struggled that the sensitivity of his Red Bull car was “unbelievable” as he spun twice, with team-mate Pierre Gasly finishing fourth, while Charles Leclerc also had a difficult session in the Ferrari.
Leclerc was sixth fastest behind the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, he was two and a half tenths off. The Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was forced to sit out most of the session with a misfire on his engine, the team forced into an engine change.
Both the Ferrari’s were running the teams latest updates, new aerodynamic shapers in front of the side pods as they chase more downforce, the lack of which has been their biggest weakness this season.
Leclerc started the session with it, while it was fitted to Vettel’s after his first run and he used it to set his fastest time. But the Monacan complaining the car “didn’t feel good” and was down in sixth.
Kevin Magnussen’s pace was surprising going fifth in the old-spec Haas going a second faster than his team-mate Romain Grosjean in the new-spec, down in twelfth. The Frenchman struggled in the aero spec Haas started the season with as the team bids to get a better understanding of its race-pace problems.
However, Grosjean reported he had “everything: understeer, oversteer, it’s like Monza wings” during the session, and wound up twelfth.
Nico Hulkenberg led the best of the rest in seventh, four-tenths behind the Haas and a tenth ahead of the McLaren’s on Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz. Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top ten, almost a tenth ahead of Hulkenberg’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
Daniil Kvyat was thirteenth, the Toro Rosso driver going two and a half tenths quicker than teammate Alex Albon. Sergio Perez was fourteenth ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi.
George Russell gave Williams early hope of fighting at the back of the midfield by lapping 2.4s off Hamilton’s best and outpacing the Racing Point of Lance Stroll.
The Canadian went onto the grass at the Turn Six/Seven chicane, but avoided damage.