Vettel Brings Feel-Good Factor Back On Day 1 In Hungary

Scuderia Ferrari got on with the work it was unable to complete at the Styrian Grand Prix, because of the bad weather that led to FP3 being cancelled and then the incident at turn three on the opening lap of the race. It meant the team was unable to evaluate the upgraded parts it had introduced. During Friday free practice in Hungary, Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, therefore, continued gathering data on the new aero package introduced a week ago. They covered a total of 77 laps and Vettel set the fastest time in the wet second session.

In FP1, both SF1000s were in the same configuration as at the Styrian GP, thanks to the great efforts of the people in Maranello who, in record time, rebuilt the components damaged in Spielberg. The two drivers ran different tyre programmes: Vettel started on the Hard tyre posting a 1’19”032, while Leclerc was on Mediums when he did a 1’18”803. They rapidly improved getting down to 1’18”408 and 1’18”285 respectively. It then began to rain quite persistently so all the drivers returned to the garages.

When the track dried out, the two Ferraris went back out and set their best times: Vettel in 1’17”238 and Leclerc in 1’17”464 to go sixth and seventh. The final part of the session was spent working in race trim. Both drivers set consistent times over their long run, completing a good number of laps.

The second free practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix was significantly affected by rain that fell heavily on Budapest from 2pm. Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the very wet conditions, while Charles Leclerc was tenth.

The cars stayed in the garages for the first part of the session, waiting for conditions to improve. The particularly cool weather was not much help in drying out the track, even when cars began running. The Scuderia Ferrari drivers waited for some other cars to go out, but there was still not much grip to be found, so Seb and Charles waited a further ten minutes and then went out on Wet tyres. Sebastian soon showed he was comfortable and after a few laps, stopped the clocks in 1’40”464. Charles made a couple of driving errors on his way to a 1’43”725.

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“I think this morning was ok. This track should be a bit better for us and let’s hope that’s the case tomorrow, but we won’t know until we hit qualifying.

We did more laps than others in the wet, because after the weaknesses we showed last week, we need to understand the car a bit better. We need laps to gain confidence in the car. It’s not a secret that there’s still a lot of homework to do, but overall we seem to be a bit more competitive.

The weather looks like being changeable in the next few days, but if it’s dry like Austria, it’ll be ok as we were also good this morning on a dry track. I am looking forward to tomorrow,” said Vettel.

2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, Friday - Sebastian Vettel (image courtesy Scuderia Ferrari Pres Office)
2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, Friday – Sebastian Vettel (image courtesy Scuderia Ferrari Pres Office)

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team topped the timesheets in the dry FP1, before limited running in wet FP2.

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the morning session, with Valtteri Bottas just 0.086s behind in P2. Bottas then finished P2 in the rain-affected afternoon session, while Hamilton was classified P16 after not setting a timed lap.

“The car didn’t feel too bad in the dry today in FP1. It seemed like we were in a good place balance-wise, although I was struggling with a bit of understeer but that can be fixed, and I think it wasn’t a bad start. Obviously, it would have been nice to get some more practice laps in during the afternoon, fine-tuning the balance more, but the conditions were the same for everyone. The grip level was pretty low in FP2 in the wet. I got to get a feel for the balance in those conditions and I tried both the Inter and Wet tyres. They both felt pretty similar. It looks like we’ll see more rain this weekend so I’m sure we can keep working on the car and doing a better job, before qualifying and the race,” said Bottas.

2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, Friday - Valtteri Bottas (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)
2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, Friday – Valtteri Bottas (image courtesy Mercedes-AMG Petronas)

The team focused on single-lap and long-run performance in FP1, before completing only a handful of laps in the wet FP2 – in order to save tyres for later in the weekend.

McLaren had a challenging day, struggling with their setup in FP1, however, in the wet of FP2, Carlos Sainz managed to set the third fastest time of the session.

“It’s been a challenging Friday for us here at the Hungaroring. In FP1 we struggled with the balance more than we wanted to, and putting good laps together was quite tricky compared to our performance in Austria. We’re finding different challenges and we need to make sure we adapt to these, just in case it’s dry tomorrow. In the wet we did very little running, but otherwise had a decent feeling with the car.

“We had a specific test programme for FP2 to try different set-ups and improve our performance in dry conditions, but we obviously couldn’t do it. So, if it’s dry tomorrow, we’ll need to work hard to pull it all together and get it right for quali,” added Sainz.

2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, Friday - Carlos Sainz (image courtesy McLaren)
2020 Hungarian Grand Prix, Friday – Carlos Sainz (image courtesy McLaren)

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