2015 Hungarian Grand Prix Practice Review

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Lewis Hamilton wins the British Grand Prix ahead of his team mate Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel in third place. Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Force India also put in some great performances to gain some points in the race as well.

With everyone still in shock from the tragic news that Jules Bianchi sadly passed away on Friday night nine months after his tragic accident at the Japanese Grand Prix as a result of his injuries; the mood heading into this race is quite sombre.

With the F1 community on Tuesday saying goodbye to our big bright shining star in the sky; it just shows just how much we rally together and also how grateful we was to have such a promising racing driver and well loved and respected gentleman in the sport as well who we will all deeply miss.

I really hope that the F1 Family grant Manor F1 their wish and wear red during this weekend as a tribute to Jules and show their respect to an amazing gentleman both on and off the track.

The Hungaroring circuit is regarded as very challenging and tough for the drivers, but also as one of the safest race tracks in Formula 1. The circuit benefits track position, pit strategy, and high downforce.

Overtaking is difficult unless the driver in front makes a mistake, so qualifying is really important and you need to start from as high up the grid as possible. Cooling is often a problem at Hungary because of the lack of straights and it is usually pretty hot in Hungary at this time of the year. The constant cornering places a demand on the tyres, as this generates high temperatures, and this combined with high track temperature have the potential to lead to issues with blistering.

Some drivers on the grid think that Hungaroring is similar in style to the Circuit de Monaco, due to its tight and twisty corners. Lewis Hamilton once said in an interview that “The Hungaroring is one of the most demanding circuits for drivers because you’re busy throughout the entire lap.”. Engines are only run at full throttle for around 55 percent of the lap, the second lowest percentage of the season after Monaco. The average lap speed is about 200 km/h, with top speed close to 300 km/h. The Hungarian race is one of the highest downforce races on the calendar.

The circuit is located just outside the city of Budapest. Due to its unique position in a small valley; about 80 percent of the 4.38 kilometer long race track can be seen from any part of the grandstands.

As a curiosity can be mentioned that the 1986 Hungarian Grand Prix, won by Nelson Piquet for Williams, was the first Formula One Grand Prix to take place behind the Iron Curtain. The race was attended by 200,000 people from both Eastern and Western Europe. Since 1986, Hungary has been on the Formula 1 calendar every year and the organizers have contract until 2016.

The race weekend begins now….

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is Mercedes look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1 and FP2.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1, FP2 and FP3.

Practice 1 saw Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.25.141 followed closely by Nico Rosberg with a gap of 0.109 seconds behind, Kimi Raikkonen was in third with a gap of  0.671 seconds behind, Daniel Ricciardo was in fourth with a gap of 0.912 seconds behind and Daniil Kvyat was in fifth place with a gap of 0.929 seconds behind Hamilton.

Sebastian Vettel is sixth with a gap of 1.254 seconds behind, Carlos Sainz Jr is seventh with a gap of 1.586 seconds behind, Sergio Perez is eighth with a gap of 1.635 seconds behind, Valtteri Bottas was ninth with a gap of 1.684 seconds behind and Max Verstappen is tenth with a gap of 1.793 seconds behind Hamilton.

Marshals attend to Sergio Perez's car after his accident in FP1.

Marshals attend to Sergio Perez’s car after his accident in FP1.

In the final 35 minutes of the session, Sergio Perez suffered a right rear suspension failure on his Force India on the exit of Turn 10. Perez was going through the corner as normal and suffered a slight touch of oversteer on the car, as he went to correct the car, this put him into a spin as a result of a tolling failing on the suspension which rolled the car upside down and bringing out the red flag.

This left the fans, team and drivers all worried as they looked to the TV screens to see if Perez was okay. Luckily Perez got out of the car and was okay after this accident.

In the final five minutes of the session, we saw Kimi Raikkonen’s front wing coming off after exiting Turn 12 and leaving a lot of debris on the racing line. Raikkonen entered the corner as normal and took the kerb normally as well. After leaving the corner, the front wing just came off; which resulted in a front left tyre puncture which brought out the red flags in order for the marshals to get rid of the debris the wing left behind.

Just to mention Jolyon Palmer did not set a time due to the fact that Lotus received their tyres late as they did not pay Pirelli on time which hasn’t helped them prepare for the weekend in the manner that they would like. Meanwhile, F1 debutant Fabio Leimer in his first run for the Manor F1 Team finished in nineteenth place.

Before the start of Practice 2, the Force India announced that they would be withdrawing both of their drivers from the session after Perez’s crash in Practice 1. If you want to read more about this, please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/force-india-withdraw-from-fp2-on-safety-grounds/.

We saw in the session Sebastian Vettel spinning his Ferrari in Turn 12 after losing the rear end; but he was able to continue on during the session. However, in the final ten minutes of the session, Vettel once again spun for the same reason but spun at the first corner. But in the last twenty minutes of the session, Daniel Ricciardo’s engine went up in smoke at Turn 11 which then brought out the red flags while the car was recovered by the marshals.

Practice 2 saw Hamilton top of the timesheets with a lap time of 1.23.949 ahead of Kvyat in second place who was 0.351 seconds behind him. Ricciardo was third with a gap of 0.502 seconds behind, Rosberg was fourth with a gap of 0.719 seconds behind and Raikkonen was fifth with a gap of 1.185 seconds behind Hamilton.

Sainz Jr was sixth with a gap of 1.650 seconds behind, Vettel was seventh with a gap of 1.711 seconds behind, Alonso was eighth with a gap of 1.803 seconds behind, Bottas was ninth with a gap of 1.932 seconds behind and Massa was tenth with a gap of 1.971 seconds behind Hamilton.

Practice 3 saw Hamilton top of the timesheets with a lap time of 1.22.997 ahead of Rosberg in second place who was 0.098 seconds behind him. Vettel was third with a gap of 0.889 seconds behind, Kvyat was fourth with a gap of 1.218 seconds behind and Sainz Jr was fifth with a gap of 1.329 seconds behind Hamilton.

Hulkenberg was sixth with a gap of 1.486 seconds behind, Verstappen was seventh with a gap of 1.681 seconds behind, Alonso was eighth with a gap of 1.849 seconds behind, Ricciardo was ninth with a gap of 1.932 seconds behind and Grosjean was tenth with a gap of 1.944 seconds behind Hamilton.

We saw in the session Sergio Perez spinning his Force India into Turn 1, luckily Perez didn’t make contact with the barrier and was able to continue running in the session. His team mate Nico Hulkenberg in the first twenty minutes of the session saw in his mirrors a rainlight cover come off his car; but he was able to continue running in the session.

At the end of the session, we saw Nico Rosberg stopping at the end of the pitlane due to his engine stalling which saw him being pushed back by the marshals into the pitlane after trying to practice his start procedure for tomorrow.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race.

But Vettel is looking strong this weekend and could snatch pole from them and could end just over a year of Mercedes’ run of Pole Positions. However, Ricciardo, Raikkonen and even Bottas or Massa also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Lotus, Toro Rosso or Force India have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

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