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Friday analysis - conclusions hard to come by

25 Jul 2014

More sweltering track temperatures as high as 57 degrees Celsius, a general lack of grip and the need further to re-optimise their cars after the removal of inter-connected front and rear suspension systems kept all of the teams fully occupied in both practice sessions in Hungary on Friday.

On the bright side, Pirelli’s soft rubber showed signs of low thermal degradation, so teams are confident that two-stop races are feasible. As to the pecking order, most agreed it was too soon to tell. We take a team-by-team look at the early formbook in Budapest…

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 25.814s, P1/1m 24.482s, P1

Nico Rosberg, 1m 25.997s, P2/1m 24.720s, P2

Both drivers had a few problems getting the grip and balance into their cars, but they were the fastest as usual, and their race pace - in the 1m 28s bracket - looks very strong.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, 1m 27.220s, P5/1m 25.111s, P3

Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 27.782s, P8/1m 25.983s, P7

Vettel said he felt he’d made a step forward and hopes to maintain his pace tomorrow, when Renault hopes to up the power available to their runners. Ricciardo admitted that he’d struggled for grip all day.

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso, 1m 26.872s, P4/1m 25.437s, P4

Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 26.421s, P3/1m 25.730s, P6

Alonso said there was more work to do in setting up the cars than usual, but felt they had made decent progress. Raikkonen looked better too, but said that he struggled more in the afternoon on the medium tyre than on the soft despite the high track temperatures.

McLaren

Kevin Magnussen, 1m 27.357s, P6/1m 25.580s, P5

Jenson Button, 1m 27.804s, P9/1m 26.234s, P9

McLaren focused on refining the MP4-29’s behaviour with the new parts introduced successfully at Hockenheim last weekend, but problems with traffic and the changing nature of the track’s level of grip largely rendered it an inconclusive day. Button complained in the morning about brake instability.

Williams

Valtteri Bottas, 1m 28.330s, P15/1m 25.999s, P8

Felipe Massa, 1m 27.960s, P10/1m 26.402s, P10

The morning was all about aero testing as Williams tried a new rear wing, with tyre work left until the afternoon. Both drivers said that the tight nature of the Hungaroring suited the FW36 less well than either the Red Bull Ring or Hockenheim, but they should still be in the hunt for points on Sunday.

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat, 1m 28.208s, P13/1m 26.689s, P11

Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 27.683s, P7/1m 26.703s, P12

The two drivers experience opposing fortunes. Vergne was happy with his STR9’s balance in the morning but not in the afternoon, while Kvyat was the other way around.

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 28.101s, P12/1m 26.789s, P13

Sergio Perez, 1m 28.376s, P16/1m 27.013s, P15

Hulkenberg said he’d had a normal Friday, but Perez admitted he’d had a difficult time, especially on the medium tyres.

Sauber

Adrian Sutil, 1m 29.025s, P18/1m 26.919s, P14

Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 27.967s, P11/1m 27.480s, P18

Both drivers said they had two positive sessions, though while Sutil preferred the softer tyre, Gutierrez found the medium more to his liking.

Lotus

Pastor Maldonado, 1m 28.266s, P14/1m 27.019s, P16

Romain Grosjean, 1m 28.593s, P17/1m 27.021s, P17

Lotus focused on aero in the morning and tyre work in the afternoon, but Grosjean’s second session was badly compromised by a leak in the cooling system on his E22.

Caterham

Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 30.363s, P19/1m 28.370s, P19

Marcus Ericsson, 1m 30.892s, P20/1m 29.036s, P22

Kobayashi reported one of the team’s best Fridays for some time, with progress on each run, but both he and Ericsson had spins and it was clear that the CT05s were poised on a knife edge as they alternated between understeer and oversteer in corners and were very difficult to drive.

Marussia

Jules Bianchi, 1m 31.248s, P22/1m 28.469s, P20

Max Chilton, 1m 31.004s, P21/1m 28.586s, P21

Chilton lost almost all of FP1 when his gearbox leaked oil on to a hot exhaust which then caught fire on his installation lap. The box had to be changed and he did not get out again until the closing minutes. In afternoon he announced that set-up changes and the rise on track temperature had made the car “horrible.” Bianchi struggled initially with grip and balance.