Ellis Goodwin, F1 Correspondent
McLaren continued its early dominance of the FIA Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix weekend by pacing both of today’s practice sessions at the Hungaroring, but Lotus and Ferrari are close behind.
Much like last weekend at Hockenheim, the back half of the second practice was plagued by rain, as the temperatures dropped and the rains soaked the track with 40 minutes left in the session. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton set the best time of the day with a lap time of 1m 21.995s, which he set early, besting his morning time of 1:22.922 by nearly a full second.
Lotus' Kimi Raikonnen was .185 seconds behind Hamilton while Williams' Bruno Senna was .258 seconds back to round out the top three of the day, reaping the benefits of getting out early and hanging up a fast time before the rains came.
“It was a good afternoon getting a feel for the track conditions and how the tires were performing,” Senna said. “The car was behaving well but we need to keep working. There is good potential in the car though which makes me happy ahead of qualifying tomorrow.”
Hamilton and Jenson Button were the only drivers in a dry first session that broke the 1:23 barrier, logging laps of 1:22.821 and 1:22.922 respectively. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was third fastest with a 1m 23.397, while both Red Bull cars were absent from the top 10. Sebastien Vettel got up to eighth in the second session while Webber was mired in 14th.
Pastor Maldonado provided a little excitement in the opening session, as he caught up with Caterham's Heikki Kovaleinen, who was on an out lap. Maldonado and Kovaleinen went for the same piece of tarmac, and Maldonado was forced to sail through a gravel trap. He kept the car from beaching or hitting a wall and was able to continue on.
Force India's Paul Di Resta finished ahead of both Red Bull drivers, who were noticeably absent from the top of the time sheets in both sessions. Neither car ran on the softer tire compound, leaving some room to improve. Sebastian Vettel was quickest of the two in FP2 in eighth with a 1m 22.824s. Mark Webber was just 14th with a time of 1m 23.814s.
"I’m not super happy with that today, but it’s good that it’s only Friday," Webber said. "We seem to be going okay in some places, but losing time in others - so we’ll go through it tonight. I need to work on the balance. There’s no change from the engine mapping amend.”
The Ferraris were fourth and fifth on the grid in FP2. Massa was.422s off Hamilton's time, while Alonso was .587 back. Massa continues to fight to stay off Ferrari's chopping block, and this weekend could be pivotal in the Brazilian's future with the team.
Massa said this week that he was "not interested" in racing for an uncompetitive team if Ferrari does not renew his contract.
"I want to stay in Formula One, but it has to be in a situation where I am in Formula One to race, not just to participate," he said. "If for whatever reason I don't have the chance to stay in Ferrari, then I will try and find a direction where I can race. But, otherwise, small teams? I'm not interested."
One thing working in Massa's favor is that he has shown decent race pace as of late. Qualifying well might be the key to Massa keeping his seat with Ferrari.
Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher suffered damage in the rainy second practice as he aquaplaned and went into the tire barrier. He was unhurt and the car will be ready for tomorrow’s qualifying.
“We had two sessions with normal running, expect for my little crash into the tires this afternoon,” Schumacher understated. “I just locked up and run out of road. By hitting the tires, I lost the front wing, but other than that, nothing is damaged on the car, I believe. It was the kind of incident that happens when suddenly a shower hits the dry track. The car felt okay until then, and we will now look deep into our data to find a good way to approach qualifying and the race.”