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Hungarian GP 2016

JULY 22, 2016

Practice 1 Report - Uncatchable

Lewis Hamilton
© The Cahier Archive


By Dan Knutson in Budapest

If the lap times in Free Practice 1 are anything to go by, the Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will be uncatchable in the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hamilton was quickest (with Rosberg a tad - 0.237 of a second - slower) and a whopping 1.644 seconds faster than Sebastian Vettel who wound up third in his Ferrari.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Centigrade.)

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari - Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes - Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer - Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Force India Mercedes - Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault - Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari - Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari - Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda - Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes - Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto. Haas Ferrari - Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.

Two reserve drivers took part in FP1. Esteban Ocon drove Magnussen's Renault, and Charles Leclerc replaced Gutierrez in the Haas.

The 2.722-mile (4.381-km) 14-turn circuit has been completely resurfaced.

I wish they didn't, but it is the case and I wish they saved their money," Hamilton said. "They didn't need to because the track was fricken amazing before. Last year was amazing, the older this track gets the better it gets, just like a fine wine. I love coming here, even though they resurfaced it."

Showers overnight left that new surface slick as FP1 began, and the drivers therefore went out on Pirelli's intermediate rain tires. Wehrlein and Vettel were the first out. All the drivers did an install lap or two and then headed for the garages.

Rosberg, who had just signed a new contract that will keep him at Mercedes through 2018, and teammate Hamilton did some practice starts at pit exit.

The session was 21 minutes old when Bottas headed out on the soft compound Pirelli slicks fitted to his Williams. He clocked the first flying lap of FP1 - a 1:28.748 - and he then lowered that to a 1:27.172.

Soon other drivers were trying out the softs with the yellow sidewalls. Hamilton was one of them, and he turned a 1:26.106, and eventually he got down to a 1:23.885. Others including the Ferrari drivers had the super softs with the red sidewalls fitted to their cars.

Rosberg, on the softs, got down to a 1:22.822 and then a 1:22.801. Ricciardo was third, a full 1.1 seconds slower than Rosberg. Hamilton's pole winning time in 2015 was a 1:22.020.

At the 40 minute break, the top 10 were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Button, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Alonso and Perez.

Ocon was the first to head back out. There were 40 minutes remaining when Rosberg started lapping on the super soft tires. He lowered the bar to a 1:21.584. Hamilton's run on the reds yielded a 1:21.347.

Next it was Alonso's turn to provide the action. He spun and continued in the final turn. Not to be outdone, Vettel had a spin at Turn 12.

Ricciardo had been holding on to third place, but with 25 minutes to go in the session, Verstappen moved into third with a lap of 1:23.457 on the softs. Then Vettel did another run on the super softs and took over third with a 1:22.991.

Raikkonen also used the super softs to get fourth place with a time of 1:23.082.

The session wound down with the drivers doing the usual routine of long runs of worn tires. When it was all over the top 10 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Alonso, Button, Grosjean and Perez.