Rosberg closes gap to Hamilton in final practice

25/07/2015
NEWS STORY

Ahead of today's sole practice session, the air temperature is 29 degrees, whilst the track temperature is 44 degrees. It's bright and sunny and warm, very warm.

Yesterday's action was overshadowed by two incidents, the first a massive crash involving Sergio Perez and the second when Kimi Raikkonen lost his front wing after running over the rumble strip.

Overnight, Force India has modified the rear suspension on the B-spec car, having opted to run neither driver in FP2 as a precautionary measure.

Predictably, Lewis Hamilton was quickest in both sessions, however, in FP2 the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat looked strong, finishing second and third.

The nature of the Hungary track, which isn't particularly demanding of engine grunt, should allow the pair to bag some points this weekend, though news that there will be no updates from Renault until Sochi (in October) suggest the pair should make hay while the sun shines.

Kimi Raikkonen was fifth, behind Nico Rosberg, whilst teammate Sebastian Vettel had a strange day which included an electrical issue, lots of offs and even a spin. Never a winner here, the German really doesn't seem at ease.

Carlos Sainz continues to impress, whilst Fernando Alonso will be slightly heartened to have finished eighth.

That said, Williams was not going for times, instead using the day pretty much for testing purposes, mainly concentrating on a new front wing, which is only available to Valtteri Bottas.

Indeed, with this being the last race before the summer break, and no further in-season testing, all the teams used yesterday's sessions for trying new parts and modifications.

Tyres this weekend are medium and soft, the performance gap between the two being in the region of 1.8 - 2.0 seconds.

Notwithstanding the Perez and Raikkonen incidents, there were numerous spins and offs as drivers struggled for grip on what is a notoriously 'green' track, T4 proving to be particularly difficult.

"Some really good news from the garage," says Force India, "the cause of yesterday's issue was identified and a solution put in place overnight..."

Vettel is first out, followed by teammate Raikkonen.

Hulkenberg posts the first time of the day, 1:27.421, but this is soon beaten by Perez and then Grosjean (27.056)

A 26.363 sees Verstappen go quickest as teammate Sainz locks-up after a mistake over the bumps heading in to T1.

Nasr runs wide at T12, briefly bringing out a yellow flag.

Another mistake from Sainz, this time at T12 where he carries too much speed and runs wide. Elsewhere an off for Merhi and a spin for Perez at T1.

"Very, very, very poor rear grip," says Button, "we've lost all yesterday's traction."

Raikkonen goes quickest (25.943) and Vettel second (26.322) as the TV camera picks up a piece falling from Hulkenberg's car.

As Sainz is told that winds are stronger than yesterday, McLaren takes some front wing off Button's car in an attempt to alleviate his problems.

Vettel goes quickest (25.926), the German looking a lot more comfortable today. Shortly after, Raikkonen responds with a 25.661.

After 20 minutes, we've yet to see times from the Mercedes, Williams or Red Bulls.

That said, Rosberg is on track and immediately goes quickest in S1. The German subsequently posts 25.201, 0.460s quicker than Raikkonen.

"I think we have to go back on the changes," says Button, feeling the team has gone backwards overnight.

Ricciardo's first flying lap sees the Australian go third (25.702), as the Force India duo switch to the option rubber having not run on it yesterday.

As Perez goes quickest in S1, Rosberg improves with a 24.873 to consolidate his top spot.

Perez posts 25.393, but Hulkenberg, who is quickest in all three sectors, goes straight to the top of the timesheets with a 24.483. Hamilton (primes) goes second with a 24.747.

A lock-up in T1 for Rosberg, with teammate Hamilton running wide at the same corner shortly after.

Alonso switches to the softer rubber, the Spaniard currently down in 15th (27.246). He improves to third with a 24.846.

"We're seeing the 1.8-second gap between the two compounds confirmed," says Pirelli, "so we'd expect this to be the case for the race too."

Having gone off at T1, Verstappen complains that it is a combination of rear tyre temperatures - "they're really dropping off" - and the brake-by-wire.

As Vettel goes sixth (25.409) on primes, Raikkonen runs wide and then heads back to the pits, asking if he has puncture. As he enters the pitlane he kills the engine. "There's something wrong with the car," he tells the team, his engineer revealing that he has suffered a "dramatic water leak".

Now on softs, Button improves to fifth, albeit around 0.4s off his teammate's pace.

Grosjean and Sainz both go very wide at T10 as the Force India duo head out for another run on the option rubber.

Rosberg heads out for his first lap on the softer rubber, elsewhere work continues on Raikkonen's car.

On the softer rubber, Rosberg predictably goes quickest in all three sectors, finally crossing the line at 23.095, 1.388 quicker than the previous best (Hulkenberg).

All eyes on Hamilton who is now on the option tyre. In S1 the Briton can only manage a PB, though he posts a purple in S2. At the line he posts 22.997, going quickest by just 0.098s.

With 10 minutes remaining, it's: Hamilton, Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Button, Perez, Kvyat, Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen. And no, they weren't typos, Alonso fourth and Button fifth.

A 24.326s see Sainz go third, with teammate Verstappen going fifth (24.678) shortly after.

Vettel goes third with a 23.886, albeit 0.889s down on Hamilton.

A big lock-up and trip through the run-off area at T1 for Alonso, his front wing still sporting lots of flo-vis.

On the softer rubber, Grosjean posts 24.941 to split the McLarens and go ninth.

Kvyat goes fifth (24.458), whilst teammate Ricciardo can only manage ninth (24.929).

Bottas looked set to improve but lost time when he encountered Maldonado.

Rosberg climbs from his car at the end of the pitlane and with the aid of some marshals pushes the car to safety.

A late improvement for Kvyat (24.215) whilst Ricciardo, who had run wide on his previous hot lap, aborts and heads to the pits.

"Can we check all the loads on the car, it felt loose all around," says Perez.

Elsewhere, Paddy Lowe reveals that Rosberg's car merely stalled, whilst overnight changes have seen the gap to his teammate narrowed - as we've just witnessed.

The session ends, Hamilton quickest, ahead of Rosberg, Vettel, Kvyat, Sainz, Hulkenberg, Verstappen, Alonso, Ricciardo, Grosjean and Maldonado.

Massa is eleventh, ahead of Button, Bottas, Perez, Raikkonen, Nasr, Ericsson, Stevens and Merhi.

Check out our Saturday gallery, here.

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Published: 25/07/2015
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