Friday, 25 July 2014

Hamilton stays top in FP2 for Mercedes as Red Bull improve

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)

Lewis Hamilton once again lead the way for Mercedes in this afternoon's Free Practice two ahead of Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix. The 2008 world champion set a benchmark time of 1m 24.482s just three tenths of a second ahead of Nico Rosberg in the second Mercedes. 

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel was third fastest for Infiniti Red Bull Racing ending the session 6 tenths of a second off Lewis Hamilton's pace. Speaking after the session Vettel said:

'I think we could be a little bit closer this weekend, at least today it looked a bit better, but then again we saw that people can make a big step from Friday to Saturday, particularly Williams, so we have to be careful. We hope we can do a big enough step to keep the pace of today (for tomorrow) and to be able to use a little bit more power, but we’ll have to wait and see where we are.'

Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest for Ferrari showing that the Italian seem to have made a further step forward this weekend. Kevin Magnussen was fifth fastest for McLaren ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari. The Finn lost a bit of track time early on in the session as the team investigated a problem with his rear wing however once got back out on track he was able to complete his programme for the day ending the second session 1.248s behind Hamilton.

Daniel Ricciardo was 7th fastest in the second Red Bull after suffering problems with his RB10 early on in the session commented by saying:

'To be honest we struggled quite a lot today trying to find the grip. This circuit does tend to ramp up a lot over the weekend, this morning’s session the grip was really low for everyone and we saw a lot of people sliding. We thought we would find some more this afternoon but we didn’t quite evolve with the track, so we’ve got a bit of work to do tonight to understand that, but that’s what Friday’s are for, you learn, you try things and hopefully you put it all together Friday night in the best way for qualifying.'

Valtteri Bottas was 8th fastest for the Williams Martini Racing Team and although it is early days in the weekend the team seem to be a little off the pace compared to the Mercedes duo. 

Jenson Button ended the session in 9th place in the second McLaren just ahead of Felipe Massa in the second Williams who rounded out the top ten after recovering from an earlier spin. 

The Toro Rosso duo of Daniil Kvyat and Jean Eric Vergne were 11th and 12th respectively. It was a disappointing session for the Sahara Force India F1 Team as Nico Hulkenberg finished the session in 13th place just ahead of the Sauber of Adrian Sutil while Sergio Perez finished the session in 15th place. Despite their time's in the second session the Silverstone based outfit's long run pace looks really good should expect to improve on where they were today during the weekend. Speaking after the session Nico Hulkenberg commented by saying:

'Today was fairly reasonable: it was a routine Friday and we did a lot of running with no big issues. We got through all the test items we had on our list, so from that point of view it was a very smooth day. We still have some work to do on our one lap pace, so we can find a little time there, but when we look at our long run pace we are in a good shape. The car felt okay, which is promising at this early stage in the weekend. The key factor come Sunday will be tyre management, as in almost every race. The weather is uncertain, but it will still be hot whatever happens and we will need to make the best of this situation.'

Sergio Perez said:

'It's been a difficult day, especially during running with the prime tyres. We need to go through all the data we have gathered, every single lap, and analyse it to solve the few issues we have been having. On a more positive note, we seem to be more competitive when it comes to race pace. We just need to address a few set-up options to make the most of the very tight battle in the midfield. Grid position is crucial here in Hungary because it is very difficult to overtake, so it will be important to qualify well, and this will give us a good chance on Sunday, especially with the really hot temperatures we're expecting.'

The Lotus F1 Team duo of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean were up next in 16th and 17th place. Grosjean had a cooling system leak early on in the session which meant that the Frenchman lost a bit time as a result as the team rectified the issue.

Esteban Gutierrez finished the session in 18th place for the Sauber F1 Team just ahead of the Caterham of Kamui Kobayshi. Jules Bianchi finished the session ahead of his Marussia team mate Max Chilton in 20th place while Marcus Ericsson rounded out the runners in 22nd place. 

The final free practice session gets underway at 10AM (UK time). So what have we learnt from today's session? 

  • Mercedes remain on top
  • Infiniti Red Bull Racing appear to be best of the rest
  • Ferrari have made steady progress
  • The Pirelli Option tyre appears to be the best race tyre 
© Ben Johnston 2014

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