5 things we learned from Friday’s practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix – .

5 things we learned from Friday’s practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix – .

Friday was an absolute heatwave at the Hungaroring in Hungary, the European summer was in full swing with air temperatures comfortably around 30 ° C and very little breeze. The weekend format has returned to its traditional order, after a successful first round of F1 Sprint last time at Silverstone, with two one-hour practice sessions on Friday. So after analyzing the numbers and talking to the drivers and the teams, what did we learn?

1. Mercedes leads the way after opening salvos

It was so hot for the pilots in their flame retardant suits that reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton said he estimated he had lost 3kg – the weight of an average newborn baby – for two hours on the track and the tires “melted”.

Everyone seemed to be struggling with the really hot conditions, with track temperatures reaching 60C, so you saw the cars slide as they looked for a bit of grip.

READ MORE: Bottas says conditions like ‘Finnish sauna’ as he and Hamilton train lead Friday in Hungary

Mercedes seemed to be handling the conditions the best, leading the FP2 timesheets with around three tenths of a second ahead of championship leader Max Verstappen.

But when the lap times are revised for fuel and tire load, Mercedes’ advantage over Red Bull is only 0.01 seconds, which in other words means it is too close to announce it.

Our data indicates that the Silver Arrows have the advantage in slow, high-speed corners with a comfortable speed advantage on the straights over Red Bull – with their rivals only faster in the medium-speed corners.

Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were close to their ideal laps, calculated by adding up all of their best mini-sectors, leaving only 0.064s and 0.012s on the table, respectively, suggesting they did their best with the car and the conditions in which they had.

FP2: Bottas leads Hamilton and Verstappen in second Friday practice at Hungaroring

And both riders, along with track manager Andrew Shovlin, feel they still have a lot of work to do. “We had a pretty tough start with the hard tire this morning because the grip and balance just weren’t there,” he said.

“As the day went on we seemed to improve in terms of timesheets, although we still find the balance quite delicate. It could be the same for everyone, the track is 60C after all and the tires really heat up which makes long runs quite difficult.

“Overall it’s encouraging to see both cars leading the timesheets but with the potential for rain it could be a very difficult challenge tomorrow so we can’t take anything for granted. “

2. Red Bull gives Mercedes a chance for its money, as Verstappen’s PU gives the go-ahead

Max Verstappen was not a happy bunny during Friday practice, according to his team radio. In a message he said, “I box. He feels completely broken. Turn around, losing the rear. To be fair to him, many were struggling with difficult conditions.

But he admitted that they had “a lot of things to consider” although “nothing shocking”. And he retained the confidence that they can strike back by saying that the three-tenths gap on the timesheets with Mercedes is “nothing too big to overcome.”

READ MORE: Verstappen says Red Bull has ‘a lot to consider’ after finishing three tenths behind Mercedes on Friday

Verstappen’s confidence in his team’s ability to get the job done this year is unwavering – and it still is. He’ll be looking forward to working his muscles this weekend to get his title back on track, after seeing his title lead shrink from 25 points to eight.

And it looks like things aren’t as bad as the timesheets suggest. As already mentioned, the short-term racing pace is only 0.01s slower than Mercedes and when it comes to race settings Red Bull is ahead, albeit by only 0.02s (as you can see it in the graphic below). But that at least means that they are very much engaged in the struggle.

READ MORE: Verstappen’s Silverstone powertrain got Honda nod after Friday’s race in Hungary

There was other good news for Red Bull as well, with Honda saying the Verstappen powertrain – the same that had been on the back of the Dutchman’s RB16B when it suffered a 51G impact with the Silverstone barriers – had passed the rally after being run all through Friday, meaning Verstappen should be clear to use it for qualifying and the race.

Verstappen’s Silverstone powertrain has been cleared for use by Honda for the remainder of the weekend after Friday’s race

3. Alpine dominates the midfield at the pace of qualifying

Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso decided to downplay their expectations this weekend, although they ensured that Alpine had two cars in the top seven in FP2, with Ocon coming in fourth, three tenths faster than his most decorated teammate. .

Perhaps that’s because Pierre Gasly in sixth place to Lance Stroll in 10th – with the bottom half of the top 10 comprising five different teams – are only two tenths apart. As has become the case in recent years, it is very close.

READ MORE: Gasly relieved by Friday’s strong performance at Hungaroring after struggling Silverstone

The near-term data, however, looks very encouraging for the French side, which are engaged in a battle with AlphaTauri and Aston Martin for fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship, just eight points between them. They are about 0.49s from the pace, but a quarter of a second ahead of the midfielder. And that bodes well on a track with limited overtaking possibilities.

They fall back into the race pace charts, Alonso having said he is still not too happy with the balance, but they remain in the mix behind McLaren, Ferrari and ahead of Aston Martin and AlphaTauri with 0.35s separating them. five teams – and may well have to don their defensive boots to protect what could be solid points.


4. McLaren and Ferrari fight for the best of others in the race

McLaren was testing a slew of improvements on Friday as it seeks to consolidate its third place in the Constructors’ Championship. Combine that with the fact that they rarely show their hand in the first two practice sessions and tend to pick up the pace over a weekend, and it wasn’t a shock to see Lando Norris no ‘was only ninth in FP2, with Daniel Ricciardo 13th.

But there are a lot of positives for fans of the papaya variety. First of all, the initial feeling within the team is that the upgrades have taken a step forward. The second is that their short and long term pace looks good. In the first metric, they are fourth in the general classification, behind Alpine, but they climb to third place in the race classification, 0.64 seconds behind Red Bull but a fraction ahead of their main rivals Ferrari.

READ MORE: Norris concerned about gap to rivals after ‘tough’ FP2 for McLaren

Both Ferrari drivers admitted that while the car felt good, there was certainly work to be done, with Charles Leclerc highlighting in particular their pace of qualifying.

Indeed, according to our data, they are sixth in the pecking order, behind AlphaTauri and only 0.03s ahead of Aston Martin. On a track where it is difficult to overtake, lacking speed on a lap to get a good position on the grid is not ideal.

McLaren he showed his full hand on Friday?

5. Weather conditions play their part in the pecking order

It was cooler than usual when F1 visited Hungary last year, but conditions were back to their muggy best this time around, with people from the F1 paddock migrating to the shade to have a little respite.

The tires could also have been shaded, with thermal degradation being a factor during long drives, especially on the softs and in the rear – which is why so many drivers complained of a slipping car.

WATCH: Climb aboard for Valtteri Bottas’ fastest lap during Friday practice in Hungary

BRN33437_20210730105140879 copy.jpg
Warm temperatures for a slippery day
Fortunately, it is expected to cool over the weekend, with thunderstorms threatening on Saturday. Certainly, several forecasts suggest that the threat will subside as the day progresses, with less than a 20% chance of rain in P3 and even less in qualifying.

READ MORE: Sainz prays for rain after Ferrari leaves ‘vulnerable’ to ‘strange’ heat on Friday at Hungaroring

But at the very least, any rain overnight will wash the track of all rubber and mean the search for traction will begin again. This is why the teams are so cautious about their expectations for Saturday.

Dry conditions return on Sunday, although it will be about four or five degrees cooler, which means tire management should be easier for everyone involved and you will have more grip which should make drivers more comfortable. happy.


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