Friday, 1 August 2008

Hungarian Grand Prix: Friday Practice Sessions

Lewis Hamilton ended the first day of track action at the Hungarian Grand Prix on top, but the day ended fairly even for the top two teams with Ferrari dominating the opening session and McLaren dominating the afternoon's proceedings. Whilst this news will not really surprise anyone, the apparent strength of Renault on this opening day may surprise a few. Fernando Alonso was the "best of the rest" in the first session, and Nelson Piquet built on his first ever F1 podium from the last race by coming second place in the second session. On current form they are looking the team most likely to cause problems to Ferrari and McLaren, and may have leap-frogged BMW in terms of pace.

The first session was relatively quiet with very few drivers venturing out on track early on. When the action did get going with a vengeance it was Ferrari who came to the fore. Felipe Massa ended the session on top, with his team mate Raikkonen four tenths adrift in second. Kovalainen and Hamilton took the next two spots on the time sheets, with Alonso and Glock in fifth and sixth respectively. The times tumbled dramatically throughout the session as the notoriously dirty and dusty Hungaroring circuit gradually rubbered up.

The second session saw yet further time improvements and ended with four drivers breaking into the 1:20s. Hamilton, Kovalainen and Alonso have been regular residents in the top four on the time sheets, but the man in second would most certainly have raised a few eyebrows. Nelson Piquet split the two McLarens by taking second spot, building on a decent P8 from the first session. He excelled at this track in his GP2 days, and he clearly loves the track. He had a truly awful first half of the season, and then lucked into a podium finish in Germany. Has he perhaps finally found his feet in the sport?

Ferrari had a fairly unremarkable second session with Massa and Raikkonen in 5th and 6th. It wasn't a great day for the other team running Ferrari engines with Sebastian Vettel ending up stopped out on the circuit in similar circumstances in BOTH sessions. There was no suggestion of driver error at all, just mechanical gremlins and bad luck for the talented young German. He managed a total of just 9 laps throughout the two sessions and will have a lot of work to do come Saturday's brief practice session.

The other talking point arising from today's sessions was McLaren's interesting new nose/wing arrangement that was first seen out in testing in recent weeks. It has drawn comparisons with that of BMW and also Honda's 'bunny ears', and shows that there is no sign of McLaren letting up in terms of their car development heading into the season's run-in. There was no sign of it in the first session, but it was eventually seen in the second session. The wing didn't really seem to add or subtract too much from the McLaren's times, but it was notable that Hamilton's fastest time of the day was set with the 'old' wing.

Practice One Times

01 F. Massa Ferrari 1:20.981 19 laps
02 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:21.345 21 laps
03 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:21.410 17 laps
04 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:21.535 18 laps
05 F. Alonso Renault 1:21.802 18 laps
06 T. Glock Toyota 1:21.931 22 laps
07 R. Kubica BMW 1:22.267 18 laps
08 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:22.326 19 laps
09 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:22.370 22 laps
10 J. Trulli Toyota 1:22.457 25 laps
11 M. Webber Red Bull 1:22.654 23 laps
12 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:22.700 16 laps
13 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:22.900 26 laps
14 J. Button Honda 1:22.917 27 laps
15 R. Barrichello Honda 1:23.093 26 laps
16 N. Rosberg Williams 1:23.147 21 laps
17 K. Nakajima Williams 1:23.274 22 laps
18 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:23.353 25 laps
19 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:23.459 28 laps
20 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:23.923 4 laps

Practice Two Times

01 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:20.554 35 laps
02 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:20.748 38 laps
03 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:20.760 33 laps
04 F. Alonso Renault 1:20.923 35 laps
05 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:21.009 36 laps
06 F. Massa Ferrari 1:21.010 36 laps
07 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:21.138 46 laps
08 R. Kubica BMW 1:21.363 36 laps
09 J. Trulli Toyota 1:21.505 42 laps
10 N. Rosberg Williams 1:21.581 34 laps
11 T. Glock Toyota 1:21.662 39 laps
12 M. Webber Red Bull 1:21.733 43 laps
13 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:21.837 34 laps
14 K. Nakajima Williams 1:21.902 33 laps
15 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:21.955 41 laps
16 J. Button Honda 1:22.150 41 laps
17 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:22.197 36 laps
18 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:22.358 37 laps
19 R. Barrichello Honda 1:22.448 33 laps
20 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:22.945 5 laps

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