Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man in both of todays Practice sessions for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver was a tenth ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg in the morning session, then four tenths faster than Red Bull’s Danill Kvyat in the afternoon session.
The day started off in the sweltering hot conditions of the Hungarian heat, with some teams including McLaren running aero rakes on the side of their car, presumably to look at the airflow of their new front wing at a low speed circuit. Manor were also noticeably running some aero paint on the side of their car near the barge boards.
One team which didn’t get much running in for the first thirty minutes of the session was Lotus, who according to reports didn’t pay the invoice to the tyre manufacturer until 50 minutes before the session. They didn’t get the tyres delivered until the 10 minutes past the hour, by which point they had to wait for them to heat up in the tyre blankets before they were willing to send their drivers out on them.
Fastest man Hamilton meanwhile suffered a headrest failure when he attempted to start his first runs on the Medium tyre, reporting it making a “buzzing noise” over the team radio before his engineer told him to box for a new one. Teammate Rosberg was out on track producing some initial lap times, however he reported “lots of oversteer on entry” as he had a Tokyo Drift moment through the final corner. He posted an initial time of 1:32.798 on the Mediums.
Rear end instability seemed to be a main problem for the drivers early on, with the high track temperatures causing graining coupled with the dust on the circuit. This prompted a lot of lock ups heading into the first corner, and heading into turn 12.
Problems with the ECU connector meant Sebastien Vettel suffered setbacks in the early parts of the session, with him not being able to get a time in on his throwaway set of tyres. He later reported power problems with his car, which forced him to come back into the pits.
Once we got back underway we were hit with Red Flag after the Force India of Sergio Perez had an almighty shunt between turns 11 and 12. The Force India driver suffered a failure at the right rear suspension, which sent his car sideways across the track and into the barrier, before barrel rolling off the front right wheel which was still connected to the car via the safety tethers.
That put an end to his session with 30 minutes to go, and subsequently Force India’s day who elected not to run Hulkenberg’s car until they figured out what caused the failure on Perez’s car.
We restarted, but not long before we were faced with another stoppage, after the front wing of Kimi Raikkonen got discarded across the circuit when the pillars failed as he went over the kerb on the exit of turn 12. The Ferrari driver ended up running over his own front wing, and with five minutes left it put a premature end to the session as the marshals recovered the bits and pieces. Hamilton went quickest on a 1:25.141, with Rosberg second fastest on a 1:25.250 [+0.109], and Raikkonen third fastest on a 1:25.812 [+0.671].
In the second Practice session we saw yet again the drivers complaining about the slippery track surfaces, with the early Medium pace in the mid 1:25’s. Raikkonen was able to get down to a 1:25.134 on his first Soft run, before Rosberg took a further four tenths off that time on a 1:24.688. This was later pipped by Lewis Hamilton, who on the Soft tyre went seven tenths faster than Rosberg on a 1:23.949.
Sebastien Vettel meanwhile spun on his first attempt down at turn 12 and again later at turn one. However he later regrouped and produced a 1:25.660 to go seventh fastest. Verstappen in the sister team reported a “strange sound coming from the engine on the straights” in his Toro Rosso, which later turned out to be an electrics issue and meant he was unable to join the drivers in their mid-session Soft runs whilst the team worked on the issue.
Meanwhile Ricciardo was stuck in his garage for the first 30 minutes of the session, as the team continued to make setup changes that they started in the lunch hour. Once he got out, he was able to set a Soft run good enough for third place, five tenths off Hamilton’s quickest time. It wasn’t long before their surprising pace was shadowed by yet another Renault Power Unit failure, this time concerning the 1.6 litre V6 combustion engine which failed on Ricciardo’s car with 20 minutes left in the session.
Once we restarted the teams were settling into their long runs, which saw Hamilton post a 1:28.4 on 12-lap old Mediums, followed by Bottas who managed a 1:29.394 on the same tyres but two laps younger. Elsewhere a struggling Marcus Ericsson was told by his engineer that he could not take any further part in the last 10 minutes of the session, due to the high risk of his brakes failing after his brake-by-wire failsafe stopped working.
At the chequered flag it was Hamilton quickest on a 1:23.949, followed by Kvyat on a 1:24.300, and Riccardo on a 1:24.451.