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Robert Kubica returns to F1 - Sebastian Vettel fastest on second day of Hungary test

Robert Kubica returns to F1 - Sebastian Vettel fastest on second day of Hungary test
Aug 2, 2017, 5:10 PM

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest lap of 1m17.

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest lap of 1m17.124 seconds on the second day of Formula 1 testing at the Hungaroring as McLaren debutant Lando Norris also impressed in second finishing 0.261s off Vettel.

The focus was firmly on Robert Kubica's day in the Renault RS17, his first drive in a 2017-spec car and a huge step for the Pole if he is to re-enter F1.

Kubica ended the morning with 74 laps completed; a full race distance and the highest number of completed laps at that point. His fastest time in the morning was 1m19.681s on super-softs, seventh fastest.

He improved on that with a final time of 1m18.572s to finish the day fourth with 142 laps completed in the RS17.The Renault returnee also beat his best 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying time of 1m20.867s.

Kubica's day didn't start without a hitch, as he clipped the Renault garage wall on his out-lap, knocking over Nico Hulkenberg's sign on top of the garage. A new nose was required, but it didn't matter to the horde of chanting fans awaiting the Pole's return.

"It's great for him to be back," said Vettel, who completed 40 laps, about Kubica to Sky Sports.

"There was never a doubt about his talent, his speed and his ability to drive the car. I don’t know how he is doing with his arm...but I hope he enjoys today.”


The fastest morning lap was set by Ferrari's Vettel, who returned after three hours of the session for team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to take over duties. Vettel's time of 1m17.124s on super-softs (40 laps) was enough for the fastest time and six tenths faster than Charles Leclerc's day one flying lap.

After 20 laps on soft tyres, Raikkonen's fastest time was 1.113s slower than his counterpart's and enough for third. The Ferrari pair were testing minor upgrades for the next race at Spa.

Briton Norris impressed in the McLaren on his F1 debut, finishing the morning second with an effort of 1m17.894s after 50 laps. However, he brought out the morning's only red flag as his MCL32 stopped on track as the session was ending.

Lucas Auer's Force India was equipped with ultra-softs to improve on his day one fastest lap by 1.321s with a fifth fastest time of 1m19.242s.

Santino Ferrucci, Nobuharu Matsushita and Pierre Gasly also headed out early in the morning. Ferrucci, the 19-year-old American who drives for Haas, completed 102 laps on the first day of testing and added another 57 in the morning.

Honda-backed ART F2 driver Matushita made his debut in day two for Sauber, though, as the team has now called off its 2018 engine partnership with Honda, it is likely that a Ferrari Academy driver will take a Sauber seat in 2018. Matushita was 11th fastest, 6s off the top.

Red Bull has another closely-watched driver in 2016 GP2 Series (now F2) champion and Japanese Super Formula driver Gasly. He didn't have to contend with Max Verstappen's MGU-K problem in day one which kept Verstappen to just 58 laps. Gasly completed 60 laps alone in the morning, 3.2s off the pace.

This test could be a loud signal to Toro Rosso that Gasly is a capable driver for 2018, and Christian Horner implied the same.

“With us, [no chance], but elsewhere in the paddock it’s the best advert for him. He’s doing a great job as our test and reserve driver. He’s the GP2 reigning champion and he’s a great young talent to have in the stable.”

The only Mercedes out on track was helmed by George Russell, who added 36 laps to the 119 he completed on Tuesday; he finished sixth fastest in the morning session behind Auer.

Italian F2 racer Luca Ghiotto set the third most laps – 67 – for Williams, ending the morning in ninth place, 3.290s off the pace. That was one less than Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr, fourth fastest with a time of 1m18.850s.


Two driver changes took place: Daniil Kvyat replaced Sainz for Toro Rosso, and Nikita Mazepin for Auer in the Force India. Mazepin improved on his day one time by two tenths to finish ninth.

Kvyat brought out the second red flag late in the afternoon and ended up sixth on the timesheet, 0.226s slower than Sainz.

Williams' Ghiotto went out first, followed by Kubica who was bringing his long runs into the competitive 1m22s range within 40 minutes of the lunchbreak having ended. Kubica made it a century of laps within two and a half hours.

He then brought his times down to the mid 1m21s, in another show of professionalism and consistency. In the final hour, on ultra-softs, he set a fastest lap of 1m18.572s, good enough for fourth.

It's worth noting that wasn't a complete simulation of a race, as the Hungaroring surface wasn't evolving today as it would during a GP weekend – but his closest yet at double race distance.

"It was a fantastic feeling for me to be here today in the R.S.17 and also it was amazing to see so many fans come to see me out on track, so thank you to all of them," said Kubica.

"It has been an incredible journey. I learnt a lot about the latest generation car, as there are a reasonable amount of differences between it and the Formula 1 cars I have driven in the past. The car is certainly wider than before.

"I was able to work through the team’s programme methodically and I think we made good progress. Certainly my understanding of the R.S.17 and the 2017 tyres came on a lot. After today, it’s too early to say what the next step might be.

"For now, I owe a big thanks to everyone at Renault Sport Formula One Team for making this test happen," said Kubica in a post-test statement.

Ghiotto managed to complete the most laps with 161 – a real feat considering the oppressive heat encountered at the Hungaroring. He did briefly bring out the red flags just after Kvyat with a spin, but finished 0.077s slower than Red Bull's Gasly (10th).

Norris' afternoon running was slim as the red flag he brought out in the morning also entailed some reliability issues for the MCL32, but with a couple of hours remaining he was back in action on softs, later graduating to ultra-softs with a best eventual time of 1m17.385s over 91 laps to consolidate second place.

Third place Raikkonen kept his head down and clocked 60 laps on soft tyres, seven tenths off his super-soft equipped team-mate.

It was also a quiet day for Mercedes' Russell, ending up eighth fastest with 90 laps to take his total to 209, though he brought out the fourth and final red flag of the day with 10 minutes remaning while testing the halo to bring the session to an end.

Five drivers broke the 100 laps mark today, with both Ferrari drivers covering 100 between them; Sainz and Kvyat completing 122 and Force India's Auer and Mazepin sharing duties to cover 97 laps.

Matsushita was 13th, at the foot of the leaderboard behind Haas' Ferrucci; 4.874s were between top to bottom in the second day of F1 testing at the Hungaroring.

Have your say on Kubica's comeback and Vettel's 40 lap stint in the comment section below.

Times, Hungarian Formula 1 test, day two:








Sebastian Vettel






Lando Norris






Kimi Raikkonen






Robert Kubica






Carlos Sainz Jr

Toro Rosso





Daniil Kvyat

Toro Rosso





Lucas Auer

Force India





George Russell






Nikita Mazepin

Force India





Pierre Gasly

Red Bull





Luca Ghiotto






Santino Ferrucci






Nobuharu Matsushita





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