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Vettel quickest but Kubica and Norris steal the show


With less than thirty minutes of today's session remaining, we tweeted the following couple of thoughts:

"Let's be honest, how many of us were worried Robert Kubica might have issues today and wouldn't go the distance"


"Besides all else the guy has put himself on the line in the full glare of the sport's media spotlight. His self-belief is a lesson to us all."

At a time when we can expect some serious hyperbole, we just wanted to get our thoughts out there, for no matter what is reported over the coming days, the facts are that Robert Kubica has defied all logic, he has stepped into a contemporary F1 car, said to be among the fastest, most physical racing cars ever produced, and delivered.

While there is a great unknown in terms of fuel loads, thereby placing a question mark over his best time, there is no arguing with the fact that in blistering heat the Pole - running with the number 46 so beloved of the legendary Valentino Rossi - completed 142 laps - just over two race distances - and by the end looked fully prepared to do another 142.

And while we rightly laud the veteran Pole whose career was cut short in a horrific rallying accident just days after he had set the pace in the opening (2011) pre-season F1 test, how about rising star Lando Norris, who, on his debut in the MCL32, completed 91 laps on his way to posting the second best time of the day.

The fact the British youngster was sandwiched by world champions Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen probably tells you all you need to know.

At the same time, other than yesterday's "fluid leak", Hungary has shown a serious step forward for McLaren-Honda in terms of performance and reliability.

For the most part it was a trouble free day, that was until Daniil Kvyat stopped on track with just under half-an-hour of running remaining. The subsequent red flag was followed by another as some debris was cleared from the track, and then, shortly after, another, at which time officials opted to abandon the rest of the day's running.

Between them the 12 drivers on duty - Ferrari splitting duties between Vettel and Raikkonen, Toro Rosso running Carlos Sainz and Kvyat and Force India once again running Lucas Auer and Nikita Mazepin - completed 1,147 laps, Pierre Gasly, Luca Ghiotto, Santino Ferrucci and Nobuharu Matsushita all surpassing the 100 mark.

At Mercedes, George Russell completed 90 laps, the Briton running with a revised Halo device during some of his morning and afternoon runs.

Throughout the test the youngsters have impressed, and Luca Ghiotto, making his F1 debut, was among them, the Williams driver completing a mighty 161 laps as the Grove outfit attempts to turn its season around.

At Ferrari, Vettel took the wheel of the SF70H this morning at and handed over to Kimi Raikkonen after a couple of hours, for the Finn to continue the development work.

The German completed 40 laps, his best time being a 1:17.124 on supersoft tires, while Raikkonen ran 60 laps with a best time of 1:17.842 on the red-banded rubber.

"You don't get a lot of testing over the season", said Vettel, "so it was a good opportunity to try a couple of things and get a feeling from the car.

"Obviously, in such a brief test you are not expecting to turn the world upside down, but it will be useful for the next races and for a better understanding of the car.

"I think this year we've been strong pretty much everywhere, of course there have been races in which we did not perform at our best; of course there will always differences from track to track, but the purpose of all the work we do is to be in a good shape for the rest of the season.

"We've picked up momentum with the win in Hungary, now it's up to us to keep it going, but I am confident that we have the right people and are going in the right direction.

"As for my holidays... I haven't done much planning, I think I'll just be getting some rest, after all those flights!"

"We always bring something different, irrespective of where we are and try to learn from it," added Raikkonen. "We had a very good result, as a team, here in Hungary, but we always try to improve further.

"Today was a normal testing day, but obviously here you have more time and tires available than you have during a race weekend, so we try to get the best out of it.

"In the last few races, my feeling with the car has improved consistently, which shows that the new things we've brought have helped me drive better and better.

"Also, I am happy that I could help Charles Leclerc prepare for his test, but then it's fair to say that all the team supported him."

It was a very productive day for McLaren, and a positive one for the team's test and simulator driver Lando Norris, who stepped into the cockpit of the MCL32 for the very first time.

Norris made the most of the track time to familiarise himself with the steering wheel controls and system operations of the car, while also conducting some valuable test runs.

The team began the morning gathering useful aero data during single-lap runs interspersed with quick-fire set-up changes, before moving to slightly longer runs as the session progressed. Like yesterday, the focus was on handling, balance and stability evaluations as well as aero correlation.

It was also a good opportunity for the Briton to get acquainted with the characteristics of the car's handling and work closely with the engineers.

After a solid morning in which he completed 58 laps before breaking for lunch, Norris had a small spin on-track, after which the team elected to tow the car back to the garage to check things over as a precaution. Fortunately, he hadn't picked up any damage and no issues were detected, so the team was able to continue with its planned changes over lunch in preparation for the afternoon session.

Following lunch, the team again concentrated on set-up adjustments between quick laps before moving to high-fuel longer runs. Lando set the second-fastest time, a position he enjoyed for the majority of the day, and completed a total of 91 laps.

"Today has been a very exciting day for me," said Norris, "and something I've looked forward to for quite some time.

"It's been a really good day - and a very productive one for all of us. I managed to get through all the tests that the team asked me to complete, and everything went well. Getting used to the car was a bit of a challenge at first, but by the end of the day I felt very comfortable. I got a lot of laps under my belt and I really enjoyed the experience.

"Finally, I want to say a big thanks to the team for giving me this opportunity. Hopefully it will be the first of many!"

"I'm pleased to say that today was another very productive and useful day, for both McLaren Honda and Lando Norris," said Eric Boullier. "We've completed a good number of laps with no major issues, and we've made great progress with our test programme.

"To follow a strong race weekend in Budapest with two positive days of testing is a great boost for the whole team as we enter the shutdown period, and the information we've gathered will be incredibly valuable for us as we move forward with the development of our package for Spa and beyond.

"Lando has impressed us all with his maturity, professionalism and speed, and has got to grips very quickly with the car in only his first outing in the MCL32. His feedback with the engineers has been valuable and accurate, and he's certainly an asset to our test driver line-up - not to mention a potential star of the future.

"I'd like to thank all the guys and girls at McLaren Honda for their incredibly hard work and unwavering commitment during what has been a challenging few months for the whole team, and wish everyone a restful and enjoyable summer break with their friends and families. Rest assured we will return fresh, recharged and ready to continue making progress as we embark on what will be a very important second half of the season."

"On day two we carried on with our tests from yesterday, related to performance and driveability on the power unit side," said Satoshi Nakamura. "The team fitted some new elements after the lunch break, slightly delaying our return to the track. However, Lando still managed to complete 91 laps in his first outing behind the wheel of the MCL32. We were also able to collect precious data for further improvement of both performance and reliability, in readiness for a good start to the second half of the season.

"The team now goes into the summer break: a chance to take a breath and replenish the reserves after a tough first half of the year, before we gear up again for the remainder of the season.

"Having finished a positive race and test here in Hungary, we're also really looking forward to getting back on track in Spa-Francorchamps to show competitive pace there."

Making a return to his first official F1 test session in over six years, to a backdrop of enthusiastic chanting from his loyal fans, Robert Kubica followed a programme of various aero and tyre assessments... at the same circuit where he made his F1 debut almost eleven years ago.

"It was a fantastic feeling for me to be here today," said the Pole, "and also it was amazing to see so many fans come to see me out on track, so thank you to all of them.

"It has been an incredible journey to this point, where I have answered many questions to myself," he continued. "I learnt a lot about the latest generation car, as there are a reasonable amount of differences between it and the Formula 1 cars I have driven in the past. The car is certainly wider than before.

"I was able to work through the team's programme methodically and I think we made good progress. Certainly my understanding of the R.S.17 and the 2017 tyres came on a lot.

"After today, it's too early to say what the next step might be," he admitted. "For now, I owe a big thanks to everyone at Renault Sport Formula One Team for making this test happen."

"It's been a full and productive day with over two Grands Prix worth of laps completed," said Sporting Director, Alan Permane. "We worked through a comprehensive programme and Robert was able to give us great feedback.

"The R.S.17 ran faultlessly, even with the extreme temperatures we faced out on track. We have accumulated a lot of data over the past two days to add to the lessons learnt in the Grand Prix here, so we have scope to further optimise the car looking to the next Grands Prix after the summer shutdown."

"Another useful day," said Jody Egginton, Toro Rosso's Head of Vehicle Performance. "Having both Daniil and Carlos in the car has provided a good opportunity to have a further two points of reference for a number of performance items which tested well on Day 1 with Sean Gelael. He provided useful data, excellent technical feedback and did an impressive job yesterday.

"With further positive results from these items today, we will now conduct further analysis at the factory, targeting introduction of these parts into race weekends as soon as possible - there are definitely some useful performance gains to be had.

"In addition to these good results, we have also worked on a number of background items related to specific upcoming events in order to have as much homework as possible completed and give ourselves more time to focus on performance at these events.

"Another opportunity we had with our race drivers in the car today was being able to work on a number of car-balance limitations we noted during the GP weekend. In this respect we have collected a lot of useful data and made some improvements which we feel will be useful in the second half of the season.

"With regards to trackside operations, the mechanics have worked very hard during this test straight off the back of a busy race weekend, allowing the engineers to complete quite busy test programs here.

"I'd also like to thank the rest of the team, both here and at the factory, for all their support in order to achieve our testing goals here in Budapest. We now have a lot of data to go through both here and at the factory either side of the shutdown in order to carry as much momentum as possible into the next events.

"With a very close battle in the midfield, we are optimistic that some of what we have learnt here will be very useful as part of the ongoing development of the STR12 in the second half of the season. We look forward to the upcoming events after a well-deserved break!"

"A very productive half a day of testing," said Sainz. "It was good to have a trouble-free session and run through the test programme smoothly. We were able to try a few new parts we had brought here - mainly all mechanical updates - in order to get ready for the second half of the season and I think we've found a good direction to follow. I was able to keep on learning and I can see the team pushing hard to bring in parts after the summer, which is always a good sign.

"But, before that, it's time for everyone to go on a well-deserved break, charge batteries, and come back stronger - that's what I will be doing! My holiday will be all about spending time with friends and family, as well as relaxing but, at the same time, making sure I keep fit for the next races that are just around the corner!"

"It was a good afternoon," added Kvyat. "We tried quite a few things and learned a lot - we will now have to develop these new learnings and hopefully it will serve us well in the future. It's always nice to test after a race weekend to find some new answers to things we were not able to try in Free Practice or Qualifying, for example.

"Now we go for a deserved holiday to recharge batteries and try again in the second half of the season."

Check out our Wenesday gallery from Hungary, here.


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1. Posted by Mad Matt, 03/08/2017 12:54

"Nice to read about Lando having seen him as part of the BTCC coverage in the past.

I think for Kubica it's not really "self-belief", it's more a willingness to give it a try and perseverance when things get hard...... whichever the case it's inspiring to watch."

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2. Posted by Editor, 03/08/2017 11:07

"@ Motorsport-fan

"remember how knackered "our Nige" looked after a grand prix, or was he just unfit!"

Or playing up to the gallery?"

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3. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 03/08/2017 9:59

"Wow what a test, the return of Robert Kubica, Honda finally looking as though they can see light at the end of the tunnel and a new star of the future in Lando Norris.
Perhaps its time F1 looked again at far more in season testing rather than most development being done on a Friday grand prix weekend.
Whats also apparent is how many laps these guys can do in these cars, perhaps they are still to easy to drive? remember how knackered "our Nige" looked after a grand prix, or was he just unfit!"

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