f1chronicle-2019 Hungarian Grand Prix, Friday - Lewis Hamilton (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)
2019 Hungarian Grand Prix, Friday - Lewis Hamilton (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)

It is very difficult to draw any conclusions from today’s track action at the Hungaroring on the first day of the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Rain Causes Mixed Results On 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix Day 1

A bit of rain fell occasionally in the morning free practice session but it was more persistent in the afternoon one, which meant the teams struggled to get through their usual programmes, which focused mainly on finding the best set-up on the cars and on comparing the different tyre compounds provided by Pirelli on long runs.

Clearly, even more so than usual on a Friday, the lap times are not that revealing, especially those in FP2. Contrary to the norm, times from the first session were faster than the second, with the four best time of the day set around noon, when the first shower which fell around 11.30 had dried out.

Hamilton Sets Day 1 Fastest Time in FP1

Nevertheless, the prize for fastest driver of the day still went to Lewis Hamilton, who posted a 1.17.233, just before it rained in the morning, showing that the reigning champion was definitely feeling comfortable on this track. Lewis also takes the award for the highest number of laps today, doing 41 in the morning and 15 in the afternoon, for a total of 56 and he also got in a good long run at the end of FP1.

“FP1 was a good session. I wanted to come back into the weekend feeling better and getting straight on it. The car the balance was quite nice straight from the get-go. We made some changes in between the sessions, but unfortunately we didn’t really get to test it. This afternoon I only got a few laps on the Hard tyre, then we stopped because running in the wet is kind of irrelevant when you know that the race is most likely going to be dry. The weather was tricky; from the pit lane and on camera it looks like it’s just spitting, but when you’re driving through it, it’s raining a lot everywhere. The surface is quite dark as well, so you can’t really spot if it’s dry or damp,” said Hamilton. 

Difficult Day For Bottas

However, his Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team-mate, Valtteri Bottas had a very different day, spending almost the entire first session in the garage because of a power unit problem and then his laps were limited by the rain in the second session.

“During my first timed lap in FP1 I had an issue with the engine where I lost power. The engine went into a safety mode so I had to come back in. The team couldn’t find the issue immediately, so we decided to swap the Power Unit for FP2. We were hoping for more laps in the afternoon, but the weather conditions meant that I only got three proper timed laps in in the dry and a couple in the wet. But at least the car felt good on the few laps I drove it. I got a feel for the car balance and an idea of what we need to work on for tomorrow. In the wet, the car felt better than it did last weekend, with a nicer balance and more grip. I’m looking forward to properly starting my race weekend tomorrow,” added Bottas. 

Pierre Gasly Fastest In FP2

Completing the top three today were Max Verstappen (Aston Martin Red Bull Racing) and Sebastian Vettel (Scuderia Ferrari), separated by just one-thousandth of a second in FP1: the Dutchman doing a 1.17.398 and the German 1.17.399. The Hockenheim winner was second fastest in the afternoon in 1.17.909, behind team-mate Pierre Gasly (1.17.854.) Vettel dropped down the timesheet, 13th in 1.19.254. In the other Ferrari, Charles Leclerc was sixth in FP1 in 1.18.188 and seventh in FP2 (1.18.852.)

“We have a strong car and the package seems to be working well in both the dry and the wet, but we can’t take many conclusions from today with the mixed conditions. I was happy with the car in both sessions, even if we didn’t do many laps, but it’s too early to see where we stand. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the weather tomorrow but it could be really unpredictable like today with more tricky conditions. I think as expected Mercedes are really fast and we probably didn’t see Ferrari’s true pace so we’ll find out tomorrow what we can fight for, but the battle with Ferrari will be pretty tight,” said Gasly.

2019 Hungarian Grand Prix, Friday – Pierre Gasly (image courtesy Red Bull Racing)

Big Crash For Alexander Albon

Apart from the aforementioned Bottas in FP1, two other drivers missed out on almost all of the next session. Alexander Albon went off the track at the final corner and crashed heavily into the barriers. He was fine, which is more than be said for his Toro Rosso. Landon Norris managed a short run before being stuck in the garage with a loss of hydraulic fluid on his McLaren.

“In FP1 I think we struggled a little bit with the car, but we knew where we needed to improve. Coming into FP2, we made a few changes and we could see straight away, on the couple of laps I did, that it was really positive. Unfortunately, I made a mistake at the last corner where I dipped a wheel onto the grass. Honestly, it was a silly error and just a misjudgement. It certainly wasn’t ideal, but in some ways, it’s better today than in FP3. Let’s see where we will pick up from tomorrow,” said Albon.

The fact the drivers could not get through the usual Friday programme adds a degree of unpredictability to the rest of the weekend, even if we are now at the twelfth race of the season and the teams have sufficient data to be well prepared for qualifying and the race. The weather is still uncertain, at least for qualifying. Sunday’s chance of rain is rated as 20%, but at the time that tomorrow’s grid decider takes place, it is up at 60%, according to the bulletin from Meteo France.

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