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Friday analysis - McLaren lead the way in Hungary 01 Aug 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren, McLaren Mercedes MP4-23, Hungarian Grand Prix 2008, Hungaroring, Friday, 1 August 2008 © Martin Trenkler / Reporter Images Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Budapest, Hungary,  Friday, 1 August 2008 Robert Kubica (POL), BMW Sauber, BMW Sauber F1.08, Hungarian Grand Prix 2008, Hungaroring, Friday, 1 August 2008 © Martin Trenkler / Reporter Images Sebastian Vettel (GER), Toro Rosso, Toro Rosso STR3, Hungarian Grand Prix 2008, Hungaroring, Friday, 1 August 2008 © Martin Trenkler / Reporter Images Kazuki Nakajima (JPN), Williams, Williams FW30, Hungarian Grand Prix 2008, Hungaroring, Friday, 1 August 2008 © Martin Trenkler / Reporter Images

A dusty surface and high ambient and track temperatures created the usual first-day problems for all of the teams on Friday at the Hungaroring, requiring them to chase set-ups as grip improved all through the two practice sessions. At the end of it, McLaren once again set the benchmark, with championship leader Lewis Hamilton clocking the fastest overall time. Renault, however, also caught the eye, with their R28 showing some impressive speed behind the silver cars. We take a team-by-team look at the early progress in Budapest…

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 21.535s, P4s, P/1m 20.554s, P1
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 21.410s, P3/1m 20.760s, P3

McLaren brought along new noses with Honda-style upper wings, and Hamilton said that they made the car feel better balanced after trying them in the afternoon. He had no problem setting the fastest time in that session, while Kovalainen similarly praised the balance and said he had opted to conserve tyres rather than go for outright lap times. McLaren look pretty good so far.

Fernando Alonso, 1m 21.802s, P5/1m 20.928s, P4
Nelson Piquet, 1m 22.326s, P8/1m 20.748s, P2

Renault believe they are once again moving in the right direction with their R28. Both Alonso and Piquet reported that it reacted well to set-up changes throughout the day, and that their running had been productive.

Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 21.345s, P2/1m 21.009s, P5
Felipe Massa, 1m 20.981s, P1/1m 21.010, P6

Massa reported that his Ferrari felt better on Bridgestone’s harder tyre, and said it was hard to figure out just where they were in comparison with McLaren. Both F2008s ran the new sharkfin engine cover, but Raikkonen said it was difficult to quantify its overall contribution. The general feeling in the camp was that McLaren are very strong again here.

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 22.370s, P9/1m 21.138s, P7
Robert Kubica, 1m 22.267s, P7/1m 21.363s, P8

BMW Sauber had one of their usual Fridays, turning initial balance problems into something more positive by the end of the afternoon session. In common with most runners, they experienced some tyre graining, but Heidfeld in particular found that some major set-up changes late in the afternoon had a beneficial effect.

Jarno Trulli, 1m 22.457s, P10/1m 21.505, P9
Timo Glock, 1m 21.931s, P6/1m 21.662s, P11

Trulli and Glock showed well all day as they focused on assessing tyre performance.

Nico Rosberg, 1m 23.147s, P16/1m 21.581s, P10
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 23.274s, P17/1m 21.902s, P14

Williams had a tough morning, but Rosberg was much happier with his FW30 in the afternoon as he moved up to complete the top 10. Nakajima was as fast as him in the morning, but got left behind as the day progressed.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 22.654s, P11/1m 21.733s, P12
David Coulthard, 1m 22.700s, P12/1m 21.837s, P13

Both Webber and Coulthard completed their programmes, but said their Red Bull RB4s lacked sheer pace.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 22.900s, P13/1m 21.955s, P15
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 23.923s, P20/1m 22.945s, P20

Bourdais said he had a day being patient, awaiting the improvement in track conditions that always comes on the second day, but was generally happy with his progress. Vettel had the day from Hell, stopping in Turn Five in both sessions with hydraulic problems.

Jenson Button, 1m 22.917s, P14/1m 22.150s, P16
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 23.093s, P15/1m 22.448s, P19

Memories of Button’s win here in 2006 were indeed distant as Honda struggled to outpace Force India despite new rear suspension on the RA108s. The Englishman was happier with his car in the afternoon following positive set-up changes which made his car more responsive. Barrichello continued to struggle with understeer.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 23.459s, P19/1m 22.197s, P17
Adrian Sutil, 1m 23.353s, P18/1m 22.358s, P18

Force India’s drivers were pleased to use their new seamless shift transmission at last, and the main thrust of the day was to acquire further data on it prior to its scheduled debut in Valencia. Fisichella said the upshifts were much better, but neither he nor Sutil was entirely satisfied with their car’s balance as the grip level continually improved.