Carlos Sainz secured the best time in the first free practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring, underlining Ferrari’s role as favorites this weekend.
Sainz relegated Max Verstappen (Red Bull / +0.130) and his teammate Charles Leclerc (+0.289) to places in the one-hour session in Budapest.
Tires seem to be becoming one of the key issues. “We can assume that the handling of the tires will be very dramatic here,” says Alfa Romeo team manager Beat Zehnder in an interview with “Sky”. “Even the hard tires need a cool-down lap.”
“You almost can’t push. Two laps in a row is difficult because the grip level decreases and you just slide around. That will definitely be an issue for Sunday. Not so much for tomorrow, because rain is forecast for tomorrow,” said Zehnder.
Goosebump moment for Vettel
For Sebastian Vettel (11./+1.633) it was the first training session since he announced his retirement at the end of the year on Thursday. When he took to the track, the entire grandstand stood up and applauded.
A goosebump moment for the four-time world champion, who has to defend a second place at the Hungaroring from last year (he was later stripped of it).
Only seven drivers remained within a second of the best time this time. In addition to the top 3, Lando Norris (McLaren) in fourth, George Russell (Mercedes), Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).
Pérez was once noticed when he sneezed in the cockpit and his race engineer wished him “health”. The Mexican suffers from hay fever.
Schumacher just behind Magnussen
For Russell, the session began with a moment of uncertainty. As soon as he drove out, he noticed an unusual noise. Russell suspected the turbo and asked his box to investigate. Apparently it wasn’t a serious problem, because a little later he was back on the track.
“We don’t have the pace to beat those at the front,” Hamilton said before training began. “We haven’t made any further progress since last week. But it’s a different route. Maybe we’re closer to it.”
Mick Schumacher (Haas) was 18th, 2.277 seconds back. He was a tenth of a second slower than Kevin Magnussen, who is out and about with the American team’s update for the first time this weekend.