Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo topped a practice session each on Friday ahead of this weekends Hungarian Grand Prix. In FP1, Daniel Ricciardo was seven-hundredths of second faster than Sebastian Vettel, while the gap remained at seven tenths in FP2, it was Vettel ahead of Ricciardo.
Top Three very closes
Ferrari and Red Bull look very close on track, and as we expected they would hold the advantage slightly over Mercedes. Budapest as we have been saying and Mercedes have openly admitted that this weekend they are expecting to be on the back foot.
I think we knew that Red Bull was targeting Budapest for a good points haul, the car has performed better in the low speed and high downforce circuits. We saw in Baku how they won that race and I have a feeling they have a good balance on the car compared to Mercedes, but Verstappen says that they are still losing time on the straights.
He said “Mercedes will find more on one lap, Ferrari already seem fast. they are probably the target everyone’s trying to chase. Over one lap we didn’t execute it perfectly so I’m confident there’s a few tenths in the package. I think even with a good race car, the first row is the one I want to qualify on, no doubt.”
Ricciardo believes that Red Bull find a way to go faster but warned it would be “a difficult race” if Red Bull starts from row three.
Both Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were seven tenths and a second off the pace respectively. However they both appeared to struggle to get the lap together and a clear run, but they will be still expected to close the gap on Saturday.
Vettel told Sky Sports “I think the car is pretty good for one lap. We can still improve but it’s been one of the better Fridays. It’s probably good to have a race straightaway to get your head [clear]. Hopefully we can cancel it out and make this race count and then there’s no big problem.”
Hamilton added “It’s probably good to have a race straightaway to get your head [clear]. Hopefully we can cancel it out and make this race count and then there’s no big problem.”
Playing down excitement
Lewis Hamilton believes that overtaking opportunities in Sunday’s race will be limited by overheating tyres. The Englishman was only fifth fastest in practice, having to admit earlier in the week that Ferrari and Red Bull would have an advantage.
He told ESPN, “Yeah it’s the temperature and it’s the type of track it is, it’s just corner after corner after corner, so there’s no time for the tyres to cool down. It’s almost like for this track, they need to make special tyres, probably for different circuits that are more severe on the tyres to enable you to keep pushing and remain close to other cars.”
Hamilton believes that the layout of the Hungaroring will favour Ferrari and Red Bull, saying the prancing horses will be better at managing the tyres. He says that they are better at managing the rear tyres, “Practice is just the worst day. I don’t like practicing. I never have. This is a day you just have to go through. You kind of have to feel where the car is, but for some reason when you get to the race, the car is different.”
Ferrari customers upgrade
Ferrari’s customer teams Sauber and Haas will be using the new specification of the power units. Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and Sauber teammates Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson may use a new internal combustion, turbocharger and MGU-H at the Hungaroring.
Magnussen’s teammate Romain Grosjean has a new V6, but misses out on a turbo and MGU-H because he has already taken his third example of each element and Haas wishes to avoid a grid penalty for a race in which overtaking is difficult.
Ferrari is not planning on using the new engine itself until the Belgian GP, after the summer break. The decision by the works team not to take the new spec is to evaluate the on-track performance, but Sauber team Principal Fred Vasseur says that they are not the guinea pigs.
He said “If you introduce the spec two one race before you have to introduce the spec three one race before,” he said. “I’m very pleased to be able to have it as soon as possible.”
Vasseur said: “Budapest is not really engine-related. It’s important for us to be reliable this weekend to build a good preparation for Spa and Monza.”
The Italian manufacturer’s engine performance this season has made its works team the fastest outright package, and thrust Haas and Sauber into regular top-10 contention.
Force India could enter administration
Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer has admitted that the team may need to go into some form of administration as part of a process to put it on a sounder footing.
On Friday the British government published a wind up hearing for last Wednesday. Asked about the risk of administration, Szafnauer told reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix that another hearing was being held on Friday. “Within a week or at the most two, our financial future will become more clear and I believe much more secure,” he said.
He gave no details on the hearings and the team would not comment.
There has been speculation that Lawrence Stroll, the billionaire father of Canadian driver Lance, is willing to invest in Force India as part of a move for his son from Williams. Stroll has not commented on the reports.
Szafnauer says he doesn’t know the outcome of the administration, on Thursday Sergio Perez had described the situation as ‘critical’ on Thursday, recognising also that his own future remained uncertain.
Team principal Vijay Mallya continues to fight extradition from the UK to India on charges of fraud and money laundering relating to the collapse of his airline Kingfisher in 2012.
Mallya has decried a “political witch hunt” and has said he is seeking to sell assets worth about 139 billion rupees ($2.03 billion) to repay creditors.
Renault and Sauber fined
Renault has been awarded a €10,000 suspended fine following a tyre error with Nico Hulkenberg’s car in FP1. The team reused three tyres from the set that Renault had nominated to return after FP1, which breached F1’s sporting regulations.
chassis technical director Nick Chester characterised the error as “finger trouble”, while the stewards accepted it was a genuine team error.
The stewards’ report said that Renault had mixed two left-front tyres from two different sets in the garage, which meant a mixed set of ultrasofts was used in FP1.
Hulkenberg then stopped on the circuit during the session after an energy store failure. This meant the tyres were not scanned in the pits by scrutineers, so the error of using a mixed set was not discovered after the session.
Meanwhile, Sauber has been awarded a €5000 fine for releasing Marcus Ericsson with a wheel not attached properly. Ericsson stopped the car before the end of the pit lane, the stewards opted not to apply the grid penalty that can be issued for such an infringement.
Tomorrow’s qualifying session looks as if it will favour Ferrari and Red Bull over Mercedes. We have seen getting the tyres to work has been difficult on track today, this session is one of the more important sessions of the year as overtaking in Budapest isn’t the best for overtaking.
Ferrari wants a good session and they will be looking to gain because its expected Mercedes are going to struggle to unleash the downforce they need in Budapest. Sauber who are powered by Ferrari could knock into Q2 and they have been on a good run lately.