A wet opening practice for the 2023 Formula 1 HUngarian Grand Prix meant there was limited running and no flying laps in the dry were completed earlier today at the Hungaroring circuit. After a total lack of representative running in that first session, Practice Two today suddenly took on even greater importance.
Throw in the fact that Formula 1 is trialling a new Alternate Tyre Allocation for qualifying tomorrow, which could alter how running is done in practice, and we were set for a hugely interesting hour in Hungary.
Big stampede to get out on the dry track after Practice One was pretty much washed out: there’s a 40 per cent risk of rain in this session but it was sunny in the start of FP2, as we had a green light at the Hungaroring. It was Lando Norris who set the early benchmark time with a 1:19.044. Logan Sargeant, Oscar Piastri and Alex Albon made up the top four. We also got a first completed lap from Daniel Ricciardo: it was not an eye-catching one, and was the second slowest of the 14 we had seen completed at this stage. He was just under two seconds off Lando Norris’ leading effort, and 0.3s back from team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.
Interestingly, the Mercedes, Red Bull and Scuderia Ferrari drivers elected to stay in the garage during the first ten minutes of FP2 Perhaps they were waiting for the track to rubber up a bit more after the rain earlier this afternoon. Sergio Perez’s car was fixed, so the top teams were just playing a waiting game. Back on track, Logan Sargeant was fastest on a 1:18.836 set with the soft tyres. Valtteri Bottas was 0.204s slower on the mediums, followed by Norris, Albon and Fernando Alonso.
With 48 minutes to go in FP2, George Russell came onto the radio to report that he had tried to change his brake balance from the cockpit, but instead altered the strat (engine) mode on his W14: “I made a brake balance change there, and it came up with a strat mode change”. The two Ferrari cars and two Red Bull cars were yet to set a lap time in this session after the first 15 minutes.
Finally out come the Red Bulls a quarter of the way into the session. Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc went seventh with his first flying lap. Very hard to read too much into the lap times so far with a mix of medium and soft tyres out there, plus some big setup changes happening in the garage as some drivers come into the pit lane.
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We then saw a replay of Lando Norris working his way around the track with the sound of the floor of his McLaren thudding into the ground very clearly heard. He was not too concerned though by the sounds of it, suggesting over team radio that he didn’t think it was “hurting anything”. Zhou Guanyu was on a flying lap and came towards Turn 5, to find Lewis Hamilton on a slow lap at the exit. The Alfa Romeo driver raised his hand, a sign he was not exactly happy with where Lewis Hamilton’s car is positioned. Max Verstappen went second on his first flying lap on the soft tyres, 0.075s behind Sargeant. Lewis Hamilton was on the mediums and only a tenth behind in fourth place.
Alex Albon was briefly fastest, then Nico Hulkenberg and after that it was Yuki Tsunoda’s turn. These looked like genuine Qualy sims from these drivers but the talk of different practice programmes appeared to be coming true. Sergio Perez is out on track, which in itself is a good thing for Red Bull. After his first laps he was about 0.7s back from team-mate Max Verstappen, and down in P9.
Midway through the second free practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix, a blistering middle sector from Lando Norris on his Qualy sim helped him to top spot. He slid through the last couple of corners but it was still enough to go fastest by two tenths from Tsunoda.
There was a big lockup for Sergio Perez as he went into Turn 1 on a low fuel run. He was back in the pit lane, presumably because of that flat-spotted right front tyre. Pierre Gasly slotted into second behind Lando Norris. This was a very unusual order at this stage as the Ferraris, Red Bulls and Mercedes hadn’t set genuine Qualy sims, or at least that was what it seemed.
With 20 minutes to go, that’s what we were expecting as Charles Leclerc went fastest on a 1:17.868. His Maranello teammate Carlos Sainz was also on a quick lap but only went 10th. Max Verstappen went for another quick lap but couldn’t improve and remained 11th. The Dutchman was on the same soft tyres he had been on for the majority of this session, so this new tyre allocation was changing the way the teams run in Practice. Nine minutes until the end of FP2 and Logan Sargeant was told there are “some reports of rain” in the middle sector.
It was still the same top five of Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon.
The new tyre allocation of 11 sets of tyres, rather than 13, has thrown a spanner in the works this weekend. The teams have just four sets of softs, four mediums and three hards for the entire weekend. In Q1, the hards must be used, in Q2 the mediums and Q3 the softs. Naturally, the top teams in particular, will want to save at least one new set of each compound for qualifying. Throw in the fact of saving new tyres for the race too, and it has led the top teams to only using one set of tyres for this entire Practice Two session.
Meanwhile, the midfield teams have ran two sets of tyres – which is what normally happens in Practice Two – so are on more conventional programmes. Throw in different fuel loads and how fresh the tyres were when they did their times, and it creates a very confusing pecking order at the Hungaroring circuit this afternoon.
And that was Practice Two over. Charles Leclerc on top after edging out Lando Norris but there is a lot of data to look over to work out who is actually fastest. Carlos Sainz finished FP2 in tenth place.
Results from Friday practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Round 11 of the F1 2023 world championship.
|7||Valtteri Bottas||FIN||Alfa Romeo||1m18.085s|
|8||Fernando Alonso||ESP||Aston Martin||1m18.105s|
|9||Zhou Guanyu||CHN||Alfa Romeo||1m18.108s|
|11||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull||1m18.279s|
|12||Lance Stroll||CAN||Aston Martin||1m18.319s|
|18||Sergio Perez||MEX||Bull Racing||1m18.978s|