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Formula One

FP2: Vettel Fastest Ahead of Charging Red Bulls

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Sebastian Vettel showed that there were no ill-effects of his shock crash at Hockenheim one week ago, as he led the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo in the second Free Practice session at the Hungaroring on Friday…

Having posted a quickest time of 1m 16.834s, Vettel finished the session just 0.074s ahead of Verstappen, while Ricciardo was 0.227s behind the German. Kimi Raikkonen was fourth, meanwhile, 0.319s behind his team mate.

So, is it looking likely to be a Ferrari vs Red Bull fight in qualifying? It certainly seemed so based on the teams’ qualifying simulations in FP2, with the fastest lap fifth-placed Lewis Hamilton could muster on the ultrasoft tyre some 0.75s off that of Vettel, while Valtteri Bottas in sixth failed to even get within a second of the leading Ferrari.

However, neither Mercedes driver posted a full flying lap, so the Silver Arrows might be adopting Ferrari’s usual strategy of Friday sandbagging to hide their true performance ahead of qualifying. Watch this space…

Bottas’ lap saw him set a time just under two-tenths faster than the Haas of Romain Grosjean, who proved to be the quickest of the midfield runners. In Hungary, Renault had been hoping to trump Haas’ recent speed advantage on a track more suited to their car. Despite that, Carlos Sainz finished the session 0.43s adrift of Grosjean in P8, while team mate Nico Hulkenberg, whose running was limited after the team replaced his Energy Store, was 14th.

Pierre Gasly gave Toro Rosso a boost by going P9, ahead of the paired up Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez. Fernando Alonso was P12, his McLaren appearing to run a high level of rake in a similar style to the Red Bulls around this downforce-requiring circuit, while Kevin Magnussen was 13th in the second Haas, with the Dane complaining during the session of an issue on his power unit.

After Hulkenberg, Hartley was P15 in the sister Toro Rosso, while the two Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc ended up 16thand 17th. Despite the team being at the back of the midfield, however, Ericsson’s time was within a second of Grosjean’s P7 lap, so it’s set to be a tough ‘best of the rest’ battle in qualifying.

At the rear of the running, Lance Stroll was P18 for Williams, half a second off Leclerc, while McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne survived a big spin to go P19, ahead of the last-placed Williams of Sergey Sirotkin.

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