Formula 1

Ricciardo top for Red Bull on Friday morning in Hungary

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Daniel Ricciardo - Formula 1 - 2018 Hungarian GP
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Daniel Ricciardo showed Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s potential at the Hungaroring in Free Practice 1 for the Hungarian Grand Prix, edging out Sebastian Vettel at the top of the timing screen.

Ricciardo’s laptime of a 1 minute 17.613 seconds, set on soft tyres, was eight-hundredths of a second better than the Scuderia Ferrari man’s best time with Ricciardo’s team-mate, Max Verstappen, nine-hundredths behind the Australian in third.

German Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton finished in fifth for Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, four-tenths off of the ultimate pace. His team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, stood a further four-tenths behind him in sixth.

In a slow start to the session, Ricciardo and Kimi Räikkönen held top spot until Bottas appeared on the medium compound tyres. Soon after, his fastest time was toppled by Vettel, embarking on his first flying lap around the half-hour mark, by two-tenths of a second on ultra-softs.

Verstappen lurked half-a-second behind Vettel, but on mediums, with Hamilton struggling with a lively rear on his Mercedes on his way to a provisional fifth. Ricciardo, keen to revive his slimming championship hopes, slipped to eighth behind the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team pairing of Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr.

On a dusty track, grip was a premium at times. Fernando Alonso drifted wide at Turn 4, Marcus Ericsson narrowly avoided a clash with the barriers at the final corner, after dipping his left rear wheel onto the grass on braking, and Verstappen spun on the exit of Turn 1 when trying to find more time from the hardest slick compound.

A break in the running around the halfway point in the session was ended by an improvement from Hamilton. On a new set of soft tyres, the Brit managed to get within four-hundredths of a second of Vettel’s time before Ericsson suffered another excursion, this time at Turn 4, and ruined his tyres.

Räikkönen also improved, staying in third, just as Hülkenberg ground to a halt on the exit of Turn 5 with an unknown failure. Once recovered, the Renault spent the rest of the session in the garage and his participation in Free Practice 2 remains in doubt.

After the yellow flags disappeared, Räikkönen wasted no time in finding more pace. The Finn briefly moved ahead of team-mate Vettel at the top of the standings, but seconds laster the German resumed the lead despite hitting traffic towards the end of his lap. Verstappen also leapfrogged Räikkönen, on softs, sitting nine-thousandths of a second away from Vettel.

Hamilton, meanwhile, was having a difficult morning. Complaining of traffic across the circuit and poor performance on used softs, he had to cut across the chicane of Turns 6 and 7 due to a sudden snap of oversteer. Ricciardo found a way to turn the pain of Germany to success just five days later, pipping Vettel by nearly eight-hundredths on softs. His time meant that the top three were covered by less than a tenth, fourth-placed Räikkönen over three-tenths behind.

That proved to be the end of the fast running, with fifteen minutes remaining, as drivers set about using up their used sets of tyres with the whole weekend in mind.

Romain Grosjean took victory in ‘F1.5’ for the Haas F1 Team, half-a-second behind sixth-placed Bottas, ahead of the stricken Hülkenberg and the second Renault of Sainz Jr. Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top ten, marking a successful morning for the American team.

Alonso struggled to find space for a clean lap on his way to twelfth, confirming the McLaren F1 Team‘s struggles with chassis performance in 2018. 12 months ago, the Spaniard and Stoffel Vandoorne claimed seventh and eighth respectively in this session.

Antonio Giovinazzi took Charles Leclerc‘s place for the morning, ending the session in eighteenth place, half-a-second faster than Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team colleague Ericsson.

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DTM, Formula 1 writer and deputy editor for The Checkered Flag. Autosport Academy member and freelance voice over artist.
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