FP1: Ricciardo Edges Vettel in Lively Hungary Session
Can Red Bull deliver a victory in Hungary this weekend? They certainly made an impression in the opening practice session on Friday, with Daniel Ricciardo narrowly pipping Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to top spot, while the sister RB14 of Max Verstappen was just 0.088s off the pace.
Much has been made of Red Bull’s chances of winning at the Hungaroring on Sunday, given this circuit lacks straights and has plenty of corners, and the early signs are positive. Ricciardo delivered a mighty 1m 17.613s on fresh soft rubber to land early bragging rights, but Vettel was only 0.079s behind with less than a tenth of a second splitting the top three.
The sister Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen had to settle for fourth spot, while the early running suggests Mercedes have some work to do. Lewis Hamilton was the leading Silver Arrow in fifth, with Valtteri Bottas one spot and 0.434s behind his team mate.
Renault were best of the rest again, 1.3s off the pace, with Nico Hulkenberg edging team mate Carlos Sainz to seventh. But the session ended on a sour note for Hulkenberg, when the German’s R.S.18 ground to a halt after suffering a suspected power unit failure, and his team will certainly be busy to get his car ready for the day’s second session.
Haas, as has been the case in recent races, will surely be the French team’s nearest rivals this weekend, and that proved so in FP1 with Romain Grosjean coming home in ninth ahead of team mate Kevin Magnussen, who made up the top ten.
Sauber, along with Haas, will run fresh, latest-spec Ferrari power units in Hungary, but the Swiss team endured an underwhelming start to their Grand Prix weekend after both drivers had off moments in the opening segment of practice.
First tester Antonio Giovinazzi, given an outing in place of Charles Leclerc, pushed his tyres a bit too much, leading to a lock-up, before a similarly-keen Marcus Ericsson spun off track. Ericsson later repeated that spin at Turn 4, and he ultimately finished bottom of the timesheet, two places behind Giovinazzi.
The tight-and-twisty Hungaroring certainly kept the drivers on their toes in this opening 90 minutes of running, with Turn 1 in particular proving a challenge for a few familiar faces. Hamilton suffered an early lock-up at the first corner, before Verstappen found himself backwards after also pushing a bit too hard.
Verstappen and Ericsson weren’t the only ones to spin, either. Brendon Hartley, who comes into this Grand Prix on the back of a respectable 10th in Germany, ended his session by losing his rear at Turn 14. No damage was caused to his Toro Rosso, though, and he finished 13th in the standings.
Meanwhile at McLaren, Stoffel Vandoorne, who has had his chassis changed this weekend, came home in 16th, with his team mate Fernando Alonso up in 12th.
A lively session indeed – and we hope it will be more of the same when the drivers return to the track for second practice this afternoon.