After retiring last time out in Germany, Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo bounced back at one of their favoured tracks of the season to top FP1 in Hungary. There was little to separate the top 3 teams with Red Bull seemingly having the upper hand.
The Hungaroring suits the RB14 as the circuit is not a heavily dependent power track and is more like Monaco without the barriers. Ricciardo just pipped the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel to quickest with Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen not far behind as only one tenth separated the top 3 drivers.
Ricciardo and Verstappen set their best lap-times on the Soft tyre while Vettel sat his best lap on the Ultrasoft tyre. The German encountered traffic on his lap however which suggests that both teams are quite equally matched.
The other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen settled for 4th ahead of the Mercedes’ of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Early running suggests that Mercedes have a bit of work to do with Hamilton locking-up several times and struggling for comfort.
Behind the top 3 teams, the “best of the rest” spot was tightly fought between Haas and Renault with Romain Grosjean’s Haas occupying 7th place ahead of the Renault’s of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz with Kevin Magnussen’s Haas in 10th. It wasn’t an easy session for Hulkenberg as the German’s R.S.18 grounded to a halt after suffering a suspected power unit failure.
Haas, along with Sauber, will run latest spec Ferrari power units this weekend with a performance increase suspected of around 40hp.
Charles Leclerc sat out the session which allowed Antonio Giovinazzi to get valuable running in. The Italian would finish in 18th, two places ahead of team-mate Marcus Ericsson. Both struggled with Giovinazzi suffering a huge lock-up and Ericsson spinning off the track more than once.
The Sauber drivers weren’t the only ones to have problems. Verstappen and Brendon Hartley both spun with the Toro Rosso driver finding himself facing the wrong way as the New Zealander lost the rear of the car at Turn 14.
At McLaren, Stoffel Vandoorne had his chassis changed ahead of the weekend in hoping to find a bit of performance. Team-mate Fernando Alonso came home in 12th with the Belgian in 16th.
Come FP2, Vettel would end the session quickest with Verstappen less than a tenth behind in 2nd. FP1 pacesetter Ricciardo finished 3rd, over two tenths behind Vettel.
Raikkonen was once again 4th and ahead of both Mercedes’ of Hamilton and Bottas. Hamilton had a scary moment in the early part of the session when the Brit momentary lost the rear of the car when it snapped at Turn 4. Importantly, when Hamilton and Bottas ran the Ultrasoft tyre, they could not string together a clean run as they continued to struggle with the rear.
Haas’s Grosjean was 7th again with the Renault of Sainz in 8th. Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly was surprisingly 9th quickest with Esteban Ocon in 10th for Force India. Hulkenberg was able to get out after Renault had fixed the issue with his power unit which caused him to come a stop in FP1, finishing in 14th with the other Haas of Magnussen ahead of him in 13th.
Leclerc took over from Giovinazzi and in a much quieter session for the Sauber team, both Ericsson and Leclerc were in the bottom half of the timesheets in 16th and 17th.
Lance Stroll’s Williams was marginally quicker than Vandoorne’s McLaren in 18th and 19th with the remaining Williams of Sergey Sirotkin 2.9 seconds off the pace in 20th.