Charles Leclerc topped the second practice session for the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix, while Max Verstappen finished 11th fastest.
It was a different FP2 with the teams being prudent about their tyre consumption with the limited tyres allocations available to them on a weekend when Formula 1 was trialing a new Qualifying format, dictating tyre usage with 11 sets of tyres given to each driver instead of 13.
The fast laps were unrepresentative, as Red Bull and Mercedes used only one set of tyres during the session, Verstappen on one set of Softs, Hamilton on one set of Mediums.
While Verstappen’s fastest lap was only good for 11th, the times he was setting on the long runs on aging Softs were intimidating, as he was over six tenths of second faster than second Leclerc.
Lando Norris was second fastest in the McLaren while Pierre Gasly was third.
With fuel loads unknown and tyre age different at the time the laps were set, we are yet to get a clear idea about the pecking order after Friday’s running.
Buildup towards FP2
Nothing much could be read into the results of FP1 that saw Russell top the timing screens of a wet session in Budapest, while Perez made the headlines with his first lap crash.
It was the worst time for Perez to crash, with Ricciardo ready to pounce from his AlphaTauri seat, and what made matters worse is that he was driving the upgraded RB19, with a new floor whose details are now all over the web and social media. Monaco all over again.
Red Bull declared that the #11 RB19 will be ready for FP2, and with the lack of running in FP1, Perez might have dodged a bullet, but nevertheless, there will be a big dent in his confidence.
With a new Qualifying format being trialed this weekend, missing out on some dry running in FP1 might prove pivotal for many teams’ preparations.
So hopefully in FP2 we can starting building an idea about the pecking order. How much faster will the updated RB19 be? Where are Mercedes, Ferrari, Aston Martin, and more interestingly; McLaren?
Speaking of McLaren, Norris claimed his MCL60 is still far from being ideal for his driving, he told Sky Sports F1: “You have to drive it quite one way but it’s also a way that I don’t want to drive or like to drive.
“I don’t like to drive the car the way that I have to drive it now. I feel like it isn’t to my strengths at all. I want to be able to carry minimum speed and U a corner and the last thing I can do in the world now is U a corner.
“I have to V the corner more than ever and I’ve never been the biggest fan of doing that and I don’t like it that much,” he concluded.
Hungary FP2 session highlights
FP2 began in partly cloudy conditions, with track temperatures at 33C while the air temperature was 23C, with a 40% chance of rain. The track has dried out since FP1.
Ten minutes into the session, all drivers were out on track except for Verstappen, Leclerc, Perez, Hamilton and Sainz.
15 minutes into the session, Norris reported bottoming on his McLaren MCL60; he said over the radio: “Still quite a bit of bottoming, I don’t think it’s hurting anything though.”
At that moment of the session as well, the Red Bull of Verstappen and Perez finally made their way to the track.
As the session progressed, the times started tumbling, with various driver making an appearance at the top of the timing screens, Tsunoda, Hulkenberg, Stroll, Albon, Sargeant, and Norris to name some.
Halfway into the session, Ocon and Tsunoda had a close moment in the pitlane as the latter was released into the Alpine’s path. No contact though.
Footage showed that Piastri’s MCL60 was up on the stands in the McLaren garage, the driver out of the car, having driven 11 laps.
With 23 minutes remaining, Leclerc went fastest on a new set of Soft tyres, Sainz in the sister Red car was only tenth.
Also footage showed Leclerc almost drove over an Alpine mechanic who was guiding Ocon’s car out of the garage. Thankfully there was no contact and the mechanic was safe.
Worth noting that with the new Qualifying format trial, the teams were diligent in the way they were using their tyres. With ten minutes remaining, Verstappen for example, has used only one set of Soft tyres.
In the final five minutes, Hamilton who was on a long run, complained about lack of grip, his engineer responding that other teams are facing similar issues. Hamilton has been on the same set of Medium tyres all session.
The session ended with drivers heading towards the start/finish line for some practice starts.
How they finished
Leclerc posted a 1:17.686 to go fastest, 0.015s behind Norris who was second fastest in the McLaren, while Gasly was 0.217s further down the road in third.
Tsunoda was fourth fastest in the AlphaTauri with a 1:17.934, while Ricciardo was 14th fastest in the sister car.
Ocon was fifth fastest in the other Alpine, 0.359s off the pace, and 0.013s ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Haas who was sixth.
Valtteri Bottas clocked the seventh fastest time, 0.399s from the top, with Fernando Alonso 0.020s behind him in eighth.
Zhou Guanyu and Carlos Sainz were ninth and tenth respectively.