Generally the Red Bull team tend to keep their powder dry in the early stages of a race weekend but, in what must serve as an ominous warning to their rivals, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber ended one-two in the first free practice session of the Hungarian Grand Prix, at Hungaroring near Budapest.
Vettel spent the first hour of the session having what appeared to be brake issues sorted out, and only racked up a time shortly after the hour mark. Within a few laps he topped the timing screens with a best lap time of 1:22.723, which in end was a quarter of a second up on teammate Webber who was second fastest ion the 90 minute session.
The Red Bull pair were the only ones to dip into 82 second zone. Last year in similar conditions the top time in FP1 was 1:22.821 set by Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren. Thus in the space of a year the clever lads in F1 have made up the advantage which blown diffusers offered their creations not too long ago.
Best of the rest appeared to be Lotus, whose car (the E21) is know to thrive in hot conditions, with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean third and fifth respectively.
Splitting the black and gold cars on the timing screens was Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari, which is also known to perform better in the heat. Felipe Massa was 15th.
Enjoying one of their better free practice sessions of the year thus far were Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, the McLaren pair setting the early pace and suggesting a move forward for the Woking outfit. Button was sixth fastest, with Perez ninth.
The Force India VJM06 continues to impress with Adrian Sutil setting the seventh best time, although Paul di Resta was down in 18th, he seemed to be focused on longer runs with heavier loads.
In the wake of missing out on the recent Silverstone test Mercedes were on a totally different programme to their rivals on the opening day, as both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton went about evaluating the new Pirelli offerings – which were a mix of the Kevlar belt based 2012-style tyre using this year’s more aggressive compounds.
Rosberg was eighth fastest, with Hamilton 13th. Notably the Briton spent 28 laps on one set of tyres and running in race simulation mode. Towards the end of the session he was struggling to keep the car on track.
Pastor Maldonado rounded out the top ten, and with Valterri Bottas 12th it appears that Williams may also have improved relative to their immediate rivals.
In the high profile Toro Rosso tussle for the soon to be vacated Webber race seat at Red Bull, it was Jean Eric Vergne who ended fastest in 14th , with Daniel Ricciardo 17th. Both were pushing hard and off track excursions were not uncommon. Vergne survived a spin late on in the session.
Rodolfo Gonzalez, on duty for Marussia in place of Max Chilton, was slowest of all.
Although it is still early days the indications are that Red Bull have a strong package at their disposal on the tight confines of Hungaroring, while the hot conditions are likely to favour Lotus and Ferrari, but Mercedes are an unknown quantity at this early stage.
Despite Vettel’s quarter second advantage at the top of the time sheets, the nine cars behind him are within one second of one another which sets the scene for a very tight contest in Hungary. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.
Hungarian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 26 July 2013
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:22.723||19|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:22.982||0.259||24|
|7||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:23.390||0.667||20|
|18||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:24.608||1.885||21|
|20||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:26.808||4.085||25|