Will Red Bull or Ferrari win Hungary F1? Vettel leads Bulls on Day 1 as Mercedes falters
The Hungarian Prix weekend looks set to be a battle between Bulls and Prancing Horses after the two teams were closely-matched at a hot and arid Hu...
The Hungarian Prix weekend looks set to be a battle between Bulls and Prancing Horses after the two teams were closely-matched at a hot and arid Hungaroring Friday practice.
With Mercedes looking out-of-sorts in Friday practice, Ferrari will have their eyes fixed on inflicting maximum damage to their rivals' championship aspirations, which they hope will be aided by the competitive Red Bulls. It's been a familiar pattern the last few years, with both Ferrari and Red Bull counting this as one of their most competitive tracks.
The 2018 Ferrari is competitive everywhere and Sebastian Vettel badly needs to inflict maximum points damage on Lewis Hamilton - who has an exceptionally good Hungary record personally - to rebalance what was lost in Germany with his unforced error when leading the race in the closing stages.
Today Vettel put Ferrari - who were displaying a black band on the nose of their cars as a tribute to former chairman Sergio Marchionne - on top with a 1:16.834 in the qualifying simulations.
He was just 0.074 of a second ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen, and a further two tenths ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, in the second Red Bull. As expected, the Milton Keynes team were looking mighty through the twisty middle sector of the lap.
Speaking after the afternoon practice, Vettel said he was hoping to maximise their opportunity at the Hungaroring in order to forget his disastrous German Grand Prix.
"Of course, what else can I do?" said Vettel. "It's probably good to have a race straight away, to get your head away and focus on the next thing to do.
"I hope we can cancel it out, make this race count and then forget it properly.
"I was pretty happy in the afternoon, more than the morning, and I think the car is pretty good for one lap.
"We can still improve, but it's been one of the better Fridays. They've been a bit up-and-down for us lately, but today was quite solid."
Daniel Ricciardo, who had taken power unit penalties in Germany in order to avoid any at the Hungaroring, has had to revert to older specification parts anyway due to his retirement from last weekend's race.
With Red Bull looking to take as many new parts in Hockenheim as possible, Renault did not provide Red Bull with a V6 internal combustion engine, turbo or MGU-H, as their preference was to wait for the newer-specification parts later in the year.
However, Ricciardo lost his ICE and turbocharger at the last race, meaning Red Bull have had to fit the older-specification components that were last used in Monaco. He will avoid a penalty for using parts which he has already used.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was less than one tenth back from Ricciardo, whilst the Mercedes struggled to complete a 'qualifying' attempt on the ultrasoft tyres.
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finished several tenths down on Vettel after they both made mistakes on their flying laps. Hamilton in particular was frequently finding the limits of the circuit.
Whilst the pace of Mercedes in the qualifying simulations is still an unknown, their inability to complete a lap may be evidence of an inability to keep the ultrasoft tyres in reasonable condition for a whole lap.
With the rear of the Mercedes looking difficult to control, Hamilton made errors at turn four and at the chicane, both incidents coming as a result of corrected oversteer.
On the long runs, Ferrari and Red Bull appeared to have the edge, but the average pace of the Ferraris also takes into account the fact that they ran for several more laps than their rivals.
In a tricky, low-grip day at the Hungaroring, there were spins - or big off-track moments - for a number of drivers, including Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, Stoffel Vandoorne, Brendon Hartley and Marcus Ericsson.
Despite their reservations about their pace, Haas' Romain Grosjean ended the day in seventh place, ahead of Renault's Carlos Sainz and Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly.
The second Renault of Nico Hulkenberg would likely have been involved in the battle for 'best of the rest', but a stoppage in FP1 - which resulted in a penalty-less swap of energy store - meant he missed the first half of FP2 and finished the day 14th fastest.
Prior to the first practice session, it was revealed that both Haas and Sauber had received an updated specification of Ferrari's internal combustion engine (ICE).
As they did with upgrades earlier on in the year, Ferrari have provided their customer teams with updated parts prior to fitting the upgrades themselves.
Haas' Kevin Magnussen and the Saubers of Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson are also equipped with new turbochargers and MGU-Hs (Motor Generator Unit - Heat). The second Haas of Romain Grosjean misses out on these upgrades as he would receive grid penalties for taking new parts.
HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX, Free Practice
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m16.834s - 45 Laps
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1:16.908s 0.074s 35
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m17.061s 0.227s 36
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m17.153s 0.319s 40
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m17.587s 0.753s 43
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m17.868s 1.034s 46
7 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m18.065s 1.231s 39
8 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m18.495s 1.661s 38
9 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m18.518s 1.684s 43
10 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m18.761s 1.927s 41
11 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m18.850s 2.016s 42
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m18.857s 2.023s 38
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m18.880s 2.046s 35
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m18.913s 2.079s 23
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m18.916s 2.082s 41
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m19.043s 2.209s 42
17 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m19.137s 2.303s 38
18 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m19.645s 2.811s 45
19 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m19.712s 2.878s 38
20 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m19.770s 2.936s 45
By: Luke Murphy & James Allen
All images: Motorsport ImagesWho do you think is looking good at the Hungaroring so far? Leave your comments in the section below.
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