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Hamilton sets the pace in final practice in Hungary


Ahead of today's sole practice session the air temperature is 24 degrees C, whilst the track temperature is 44 degrees. It is bright and sunny. Rain is not expected.

With FP1 effectively washed out, we had hoped the second session might give some idea of the pecking order, however it was not to be.

Alternative Tyre Allocation rule being trialled this weekend meant that other than limited running, teams tried all manner of different strategies and run programmes meaning that we came out of the session pretty much none the wiser.

Adding to the confusion was the fact that Mercedes and a couple of other teams didn't run the softs. Indeed, the Silver Arrows drivers used just one set of tyres apiece over the whole of the second hour.

Hopefully all will be resolved over the next hour and we will have a better idea of where they stand... after all, Sainz 10th Verstappen 11th, Hamilton 16th, Perez 18th and Russell 20th?

The lights go green and Bottas leads the way, followed by his Alfa teammate and Ricciardo. All three are on mediums.

Ricciardo is told to treat his tyres "nice and easy" over his first few laps.

More drivers head out, almost all bar Magnussen on mediums, the Dane having opted for softs.

"My left mirror is down," says Perez, possibly getting the excuses in early.

On those softs, Magnussen goes quickest (20.454), but is demoted when Perez crosses the line at 18.558. Tsunoda goes third with a 24.807.

Albon and Stroll head out on softs.

Quickest in all three sectors, Verstappen goes top with an 18.478.

Leclerc (mediums) goes third (19.565), ahead of Stroll, Albon and Magnussen, all of whom are on the red-banded rubber.

Sainz and Stroll both say they are struggling with the wind.

"Tyres are not cooling down," says Perez, only to be told that it is a problem he will have to live with.

Alonso and the Alpine pair head out on softs.

11 minutes in and the Mercedes pair finally head out, leaving Hulkenberg and the McLarens as the only 'no shows'.

Ocon goes third and Gasly fourth, though both are around 0.8s off Verstappen's pace – even though they are on softs.

Russell goes fifth (19.418), on fresh mediums, while Hamilton posts a 19.610 to go seventh, the Mercedes pair sandwiching the Ferrari of Leclerc.

The McLarens head out, both drivers on softs, as Sainz goes twelfth with a 20.345.

Quickest in S2, Piastri crosses the line at 18.949 to go third, still 0.417s off the pace.

Norris goes fourth with a 19.061, only to be demoted by Con (19.059), who is told that he's losing out to his teammate in Turns 13 and 14.

On softs, Zhou goes quickest in S2, the Chinese driver going second with an 18.544. Moments later he is leapfrogged by his teammate who stops the clock at 18.489.

Seemingly, Sainz is on a race simulation, as teammate Leclerc goes wide in Turn 14.

Piastri improves (18.598) but remains fifth as Magnussen goes quickest in S1.

Norris goes fourth (18.554) while Magnussen improves to eighth with a 19.156.

Alonso improves to tenth (19.220) but remains 0.742s off the pace.

A 19.048 sees Hamilton go eighth, the Briton still running the mediums.

A small mistake sees Verstappen abort his lap, the Dutchman still on mediums. "Is everything OK with the rear," he asks. "It's a bit weird." He is assured that all is OK.

PBs in all three sectors see Albon go sixth with an 18.592. Sargeant goes ninth (18.867).

Hamilton improves (18.941) but remains tenth as the big guns stick with the mediums, determined to hold back their softs for Q3.

Tsunoda complains that his car is sliding in Turns 1 and 3.

On fresh softs, Alonso goes quickest with an 18.350, 0.128s up on Verstappen's best on the mediums.

With 20 minutes remaining, and clearly looking ahead to Q1, Tsunoda, Stroll and Ricciardo bolt on new sets of hards, as do the Alfa pair.

"Traction is pretty bad," reports Tsunoda.

Bottas posts a 19.074 on the hards with teammate Zhou not far off.

On the mediums, Norris goes quickest with an 18.082, his previous best having been on the softs.

Russell, Hamilton and Verstappen head out on softs.

Hamilton goes quickest in the first two sectors, finally crossing the line at 17.811, while Russell posts an 18.398 to go fourth.

Verstappen immediately responds with an 18.061, 0.250s down on Hamilton, having lost time in the final two sectors.

Stroll (softs) goes seventh with an 18.536.

"No **** grip, it's unbelievable," reports Verstappen.

Perez (softs) goes third with an 18.074, just 0.013s down on his teammate.

Sainz, currently 20th, heads out on fresh softs, followed by his similarly shod teammate who is currently 17th.

Russell improves to fifth (18.119) having gone quickest in the final sector.

Sainz goes quickest in S1, but Magnussen goes quicker.

Sainz goes seventh with an 18.234, while an 18.190 sees Leclerc go sixth.

Despite his S1 pace, Magnussen can only manage an 18.649 to go 15th, while teammate Hulkenberg goes fourth with an 18.077.

With less than two minutes remaining, Ricciardo's AlphaTauri is still sporting flo-vis.

Perez improves to 18.067 but remains third, likewise Sainz who remains 8th on 18.234.

"Ricciardo just almost went into the back of me," says Zhou after slowing almost to a halt in front of the Australian.

The session ends. Hamilton is quickest, ahead of Verstappen, Perez, Hulkenberg, Norris, Russell, Leclerc, Sainz, Alonso and Bottas.

Stroll is eleventh, ahead of Zhou, Albon, Piastri, Magnussen, Gasly, Sargeant, Ricciardo, Ocon and Tsunoda.

So, though the waters remain somewhat muddied, a fascinating picture is beginning to emerge, especially with Mercedes having turned things completely around overnight.

Then there's Norris's pace on the mediums and Hulkenberg up in fourth, ahead of the Ferraris. Indeed, speaking of Norris's pace, the Red Bulls clearly like the mediums while the softs suited the Mercedes, thereby adding to the conundrum.

An altogether better session for Perez, while Verstappen appears unhappy with his car... so no change there then.

Currently we remain unconvinced by this new qualifying format, but we admit that on the evidence thus far it is clearly shaking things up.

Check out our Saturday gallery from the Hungaroring here.


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