Friday’s Formula 1 practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix was dominated by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, as he completed a frenetic FP2 session, with Red Bull and Mercedes failing to dazzle on the timing screens.
Leclerc, hailing from Monaco, outperformed Silverstone’s podium placer, Lando Norris, during a practice session that was marked by earlier rainfall and a unique tyre allocation trial for Saturday’s qualifying. The first practice session (FP1) was disrupted by two red flags and sporadic rain over the Mogyorod area, resulting in a ‘green’ circuit with limited grip for the drivers during the FP2 session.
Given the reduction in the allocation of dry tyres from 13 to 11 for the Hungarian weekend due to the testing of set tyre compounds for each qualifying phase, teams had to exercise caution with their allowances. Nevertheless, here are the main observations from the Friday practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Highlight of the Day
The inaugural free practice session at the Hungaroring was affected by rain and yielded limited usable data, aside from a few trials on wet tyre compounds, as two red flags disrupted the teams’ plans. Sergio Perez’s Red Bull lost control at Turn 5 and hit the wall, triggering the first pause in the session.
During the break while Perez’s RB19 was being retrieved from the barrier, it began to rain, restricting any dry runs for the rest of the session. Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari also lost control at Turn 3 and hit the inner barrier on the stretch towards Turn 4, which caused the second red flag.
The session ended with George Russell taking the lead on the timing boards using intermediate tyres, surpassing Oscar Piastri and Lance Stroll, despite the threat of continued rainfall into the FP2 session.
When the second practice session commenced, the circuit had dried out. The session was initially led by Williams’ drivers with Logan Sargeant making an impressive start on soft tyres. However, a flurry of soft-tyre laps soon pushed Yuki Tsunoda to the top, which was later overtaken by Norris and finally Leclerc.
Despite the teams’ effort to conserve tyres, this led to an unclear picture of what to anticipate for the rest of the weekend. The mandatory tyre compounds for each qualifying session resulted in diverse strategies among the teams, as they pondered over the most challenging parts of the track.
With temperatures in Budapest expected to rise to around 30C for Sunday’s race, the use of the soft tyre is unlikely due to the risk of it melting on contact with the Hungaroring track.
During the practice session, the teams showed variations in their strategies. As a result, the usual frontrunners did not necessarily rank at the top of the timing boards. Weather conditions are expected to normalize by Sunday’s race, and the majority of the teams opted for extended runs on the medium compound.
The performance of Alfa Romeo on their long-run simulations was surprising but positive feedback from the drivers suggests this is based in reality and not a result of tyre allocation limitations. McLaren’s pace also looked strong, despite concerns over the MCL60’s overall performance in low-speed conditions.
Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari conducted relatively unrepresentative longer runs on the soft tyre. Red Bull is expected to be the favourite heading into Sunday’s race, but if another team manages to beat Verstappen to pole, he will face a tougher challenge to extend his winning streak.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hungarian Grand Prix Practice
Who topped the timing board in the Friday F1 practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix?
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc led the way in the second practice session in preparation for the Hungarian Grand Prix, beating McLaren’s Lando Norris.
What major weather conditions affected the practice session?
The practice session was influenced by earlier rainfall which left the drivers to find scarce grip on a ‘green’ circuit.
Why was there a need to be sparing with tyre allowances during this practice?
Due to the trials of set tyre compounds for each phase of qualifying, the allocation of dry tyres was reduced from 13 to 11 for the Hungary weekend. This necessitated a more sparing use of tyre allowances.
What caused interruptions during the practice sessions?
The practice sessions were interrupted by two red flags. The first interruption occurred when Sergio Perez’s Red Bull swapped ends at Turn 5 and collided with the wall. The second red flag was brought out by Carlos Sainz when he lost control of his Ferrari, hitting the inside barrier.
How did the alternative tyre allocation trial affect the teams?
The trial created differences of focus between the teams as they had to determine which part of the qualifying process was most demanding of their immediate attention. This was due to mandated tyre compounds for each session in qualifying – hards in Q1, mediums in Q2, and softs in Q3.
What are the predictions regarding tyre use for the race, given the expected high temperatures?
Given the expected Budapest temperatures of around 30C for Sunday’s race, it’s likely that the soft tyre won’t be used much in the race, as it might melt when in contact with the hot track surface.