Hamilton maintains Hungary pace as Red Bull closes in

24/07/2015
NEWS STORY

Ahead of today's second session, the air temperature is 31 degrees C, whilst the track temperature is 53 degrees.

Predictably, Lewis Hamilton headed Mercedes teammate in this morning's session, however, the session was overshadowed by a massive accident involving Sergio Perez and then a later less spectacular incident involving Kimi Raikkonen.

Whilst it is though a technical, possibly suspension, failure led to the Mexican's crash which saw the Force India spear across the track and flip, in Raikkonen's case the front wing appeared to become detached from his car. In other words, both incident appeared to be the result of technical failures.

Such was the damage that Perez' car will not be repaired in time for this afternoon's session, though the Mexican, none the worse for his experience, was fully up for it.

As expected, the nature of the track, which doesn't make huge demands on power, has been good for the Red Bulls and Toro Rossos, Ricciardo and Kvyat finishing fourth and fifth.

Due to the lack of use the track is always 'green' however, this year grip levels appear to be worse than ever. Indeed, despite the high temperatures drivers claim it is increasingly difficult to get heat into their tyres.

None of this really affected Lotus however, where Pastor Maldonado and Jolyon Palmer were forced to sit out most of the session after Pirelli refused to hand over any rubber - an essential bit of kit on any F1 car - until the necessary monies had been paid.

After being replaced this morning by their team's reserve drivers, Roberto Merhi and Romain Grosjean are back in action this afternoon.

Tyre choices this weekend are medium (prime) and soft (option), a combination used in three of the first four races but not seen since.

Ahead of the green light there is talk of Hulkenberg not running this afternoon as Force India continues its investigation into his teammate's crash.

Eager to get to work, Stevens is all alone at the end of the pitlane, the Manor driver performing a practice start. He is followed by Merhi and Button.

"The investigation on the causes of Checo's crash is still ongoing," confirms Force India, "neither Nico nor Checo will take part in FP2 at this stage."

Merhi posts 32.790 and Stevens 38.685 as Button dives into the pits.

As the Manor pair improve - Stevens to 31.312 and Merhi to 32.790 - more and more drivers pour on to the track, having lost track-time due to the red flags earlier.

In no time at all, the Manors are pushed to their usual place on the timesheets as Sainz posts a new benchmark (27.884). Nonetheless, the Spaniard isn't happy, "very, very, very tricky track," he says.

Raikkonen goes quickest (27.512), ahead of his Ferrari teammate, but moments later Hamilton, having gone quickest in all three sectors, posts 26.132 despite a huge wobble in T4.

Rosberg clearly unhappy with Maldonado (who isn't?) as the Lotus driver gets in his way at T13, elsewhere a big lock-up for Hamilton.

T4 is proving problematic for a number of drivers , most of them running wide at some point.

Bottas is late, late, late on the brakes as he enters the pits, the heat clearly getting to the Finn.

Despite a major lock-up, Ricciardo improves to second, the Australian being the last of this afternoon's runners to post a time.

Just under half-an-hour into the session, Raikkonen makes the switch to options. With the added bonus of a clear track the Finn goes quickest in all three sectors, crossing the line at 25.134, albeit only 0.479s quicker than Hamilton who was on primes, in traffic and made a mistake.

Also on the softer rubber, Nasr and Ericsson improve to sixth and seventh.

Now on the softer rubber, Hamilton runs wide in the infamous T4, as Raikkonen fails to improve on his previous best.

A 24.668 sees Rosberg (soft) go quickest, but Hamilton is on a hot lap, the Briton going quickest in the first two sectors. At the line he posts 23.949, that's 0.719s quicker than his teammate.

Kvyat splits the Mercedes pair with a 34.300, as Bottas improves to sixth with a 25.881.

Out come the yellows as Vettel spins in T12.

Ricciardo, winner here last year, but yet to get a hint of a podium in 2015, makes it a Red Bull 2-3 as he bangs in a 24.451.

At half-time, it's: Hamilton, Kvyat, Ricciardo, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Sainz, Vettel, Alonso, Bottas and Massa.

Excursions and lock-ups suggest that Vettel isn't entirely happy on the softer rubber.

As Button calls on the team to check his brake performance, teammate Button reveals he has lost the lens from his (right) mirror.

"Those bulls are looking rather feisty out there too," admit Mercedes.

Despite having the track to himself, Merhi has a big wobble in T4 and does very well to save it. "Massive moment out of Turn 4," he reports. Told he can ease off for the remainder of the lap, he replies "thank you".

"The performance gap between soft and medium is something in the region of 1.8 seconds," reports Pirelli.

Out come the yellows when Grosjean spins at T13. Asked if there is any damage to the Lotus, the Frenchman replies in the negative.

"For the next lap don't hold back any pace," Ericsson is told. "I'm not holding back, I'm struggling," comes the reply.

As ever, attention now switches to Sunday, as the drivers concentrate on long runs on heavy fuel.

Whilst, as you would expect, the Mercedes pair are quickest on these longer runs, the Red Bulls are keeping them honest.

Clearly frustrated, Button says: "I can go quite a bit faster, but you know the reasons why I can't?"

Oh dear, just as it was going so well, Ricciardo's Renault detonates big time. As smoke pours from the back of the Red Bull, which has stopped at T11, the session is red flagged.

"I think I was going too fast," says the Australian.

The Red Bull is winched to safety and with 16:45 remaining the session re-starts.

Another minor off for Hamilton (T12), as Kvyat complains about Ericsson's on-track behaviour. "He's not a very nice guy," says the Russian.

Vettel spins at T1, the rear end snapping out under braking, thus bringing out the yellow flags. The German, who has never won here, clearly not having the best of days.

Ericson is told that his "brake by wire failsafe" has a problem which could "prove dangerous" and see him "hit the wall". Consequently, he is told to pit. Not the sort of news anyone would want to receive.

"Daniel back in the garage after an engine issue," reveals Red Bull. "It was not his race engine, so no grid penalty."

The Mercedes duo switch back to prime rubber, whilst Kvyat continues on options.

Hamilton is quickest, ahead of Kvyat, Ricciardo, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Sainz, Vettel, Alonso, Bottas and Massa.

Verstappen is eleventh, ahead of Button, Maldonado, Nasr, Grosjean, Ericsson, Merhi and Stevens.

Check out our Friday gallery, here.

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Published: 24/07/2015
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