After taking their ninth victory in ten races last weekend in Germany, the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team continued where they left off by finishing first and second in both free practice sessions ahead of this weekends Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring. Lewis Hamilton was quicker than team-mate and current World Drivers’ Championship leader Nico Rosberg in both free practice one and two.
Despite being quickest in both sessions, Hamilton bemoaned a lack of grip during practice, but was unsure whether that was because of the car or because of the Hungaroring track. He feels there is some pace to come, as he is not completely comfortable with the balance of this car.
“We struggled with poor grip on track today,” said pace setter Hamilton. “I don’t know if that’s down to the tyres or the track itself but it was quite bad throughout both sessions. It’s going to be important to get a good grid position tomorrow as it will be difficult to follow cars on this track and it’s always tough to overtake here.
“We have some work to do overnight to ensure we get the best set-up for the weekend as we’re not fully comfortable with the car just yet, but our race pace looked okay. We’ll have to look through the data to really know where we stand.”
Team-mate Rosberg was second in both sessions, and was surprised to be so far ahead of the chasing pack, and in particularly the Infiniti Red Bull Racing team whom he felt would give the team a good challenge in Hungary.
“I was a bit surprised that we had the quickest car here today as I expected the Red Bulls to have gotten a bit closer again, so that’s a really encouraging start to the weekend,” said Rosberg. “The car feels great and is super quick in the corners, so overall I’m quite happy. I definitely still need to find some time and there is some set-up work for me and my engineers to do tonight if we want to achieve that.
“But I’m confident that we can make it happen. Qualifying will be crucial here, as overtaking is not easy at this great track. We’ll work hard as always during the evening and see what happens tomorrow.”
Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff, fresh off the back of his bone breaking bicycle crash, was happy to be at the track to support the team, and believes they are on course for another good result after a positive day on track.
“It was great to re-join the team today after my short ‘break’ in Vienna,” joked Wolff. “There was no place I wanted to be more than with the guys and girls here in Hungary today and it felt good to be back at work. In that respect, it was great to see Lewis and Nico performing strongly on both single lap pace and over the long runs.
“This is a demanding circuit for many aspects of the car and we will still have work to do overnight to dial both set-ups into the circuit. But the initial indication on the relative performance was good. Now we need to properly analyse the situation in order to make sure we are in strong shape for tomorrow.”
Technical Director Paddy Lowe was happy to have a trouble-free day in Hungary, and is positive the work done on track today will benefit them in qualifying on Saturday and in the race on Sunday.
“We enjoyed two trouble-free sessions today with both cars and had plenty of laps in which to do our homework for tomorrow and Sunday,” said Lowe. “Generally, the grip levels on track were low and we had to work to get the cars balance to the drivers’ liking. But, as always on a Friday evening, there is still some margin for improvement here.
“This circuit traditionally sees among the highest track temperatures of the year and once again today they peaked at 57 degrees centigrade. In these conditions, the tyres were holding up well, which is a positive indication for the race on Sunday.”