By Berthold Bouman, F1 Correspondent
The Friday afternoon practice session for the Hungarian GP on Sunday delivered a new fastest lap of 1m21.018s set by Lewis Hamilton for McLaren, and he was therefore once again the fastest man today on the Hungaroring. Fernando Alonso was again second fastest for Ferrari, 0.241s slower than Hamilton, but as both Ferrari drivers lapped the circuit 40 times, one can assume they were also busy gathering the much needed tyre data for Sunday’s race.
Alonso split the McLaren duo, as Jenson Button this time was a lot quicker than this morning, and landed third place with 1m21.322s after completing 34 laps on the Hungaroring. The Pirelli Option tyres, the super-softs, were as expected a lot quicker than the soft Prime tyres, and most drivers including the top ten finishers set their time on the super-soft Pirellis.
Mark Webber took fourth position and was this time faster than his team colleague Sebastian Vettel, the Australian recorded a time of 1m21.508, while Vettel was just 0.041s slower and took fifth position in his Red Bull. Felipe Massa was again sixth, but had run the major part of the afternoon session on the soft tyres and changed to the super-softs with just ten minutes left on the clock, while Alonso spent 30 minutes on the super-softs.
Nico Rosberg was seventh fastest, but 1.103s slower than Hamilton, and again beat his colleague Michael Schumacher who took eighth position, 0.319s behind Rosberg. Both drivers had been out on the soft tyres for the first part of the session and switched to the super-softs with half an hour to go.
This time the surprise of the day were both Force India drivers Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil, who put in an excellent performance by taking ninth and tenth position respectively. Sutil had been sidelined this morning as Nico Hulkenberg took up his usual role as Friday morning driver of the Force India team, and it was important for the German to quickly adapt to the circuit, without a doubt using the tyre data Hulkenberg had gathered earlier today.
Like both Force India drivers, both Sauber drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez were also inseparable this afternoon, this time Kobayashi was faster and put a time of 1m23.030s on the clocks, good for 11th position, while Perez was only 0.369s slower than the Japanese driver.
Rubens Barrichello had been 14th this morning, and improved slightly by claiming 13th position, the Brazilian was still not 100 per cent happy with his Williams. Pastor Maldonado took 15th place, 3.163s slower than Hamilton.
Nick Heidfeld had also been sidelined this morning as Lotus Renault reserve driver Bruno Senna was allowed at the wheel this morning, but ‘Quick Nick’ made no bones about it and showed he was this time the fastest Lotus Renault driver and took 14th place. His Russian colleague Vitaly Petrov didn’t perform as well as in the morning and landed 14th spot, and was 0.685s slower than the German.
Next on the list is Jaime Alguersuari who this time was faster then Buemi and took his Toro Rosso to 16th spot, while Buemi slid down the list to 18th position, as he was 16th this morning.
Jarno Trulli was now faster than Heikki Kovalainen and took 19th place, while the Finn had to be satisfied with 20th. Next pair on the list are both Marussia Virgin drivers, Timo Glock was fastest with 1m26.823 and took 21st position, while Jerome d’Ambrosio took 22nd with a time of 1m27.261s.
Another surprise was Daniel Ricciardo, the Australian driver beat his HRT team colleague Vitantonio Liuzzi with 0.525s, which gave him 23rd position, while the Italian was 24th.
For tomorrow, it seems it’s going to be a battle between McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull, but it is by no means certain it will end in the same order, as Red Bull has always found some extra speed for qualifying. Today was also about testing the two different Pirelli compounds, and all teams have gathered enough data to work out a strategy for qualifying tomorrow and the race on Sunday.