Hamilton bounces back in Hungarian practice, Bottas on back foot

by Craig Venn

A day of mixed fortunes for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport has seen Lewis Hamilton bounce back from recent disappointment by topping the time-sheets during practice for the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix, while team-mate Valtteri Bottas struggled for track time.

Having recovered from the illness that blighted his German Grand Prix weekend last time out, Hamilton returned to the top of the pile in Friday’s first free practice session in Hungary, setting a lap-time of 1:17.233.

The reigning champ ended the session 0.165-seconds clear of nearest challenger Max Verstappen, pleased that he was able to get “straight on it.”

“FP1 was a good session,” said Hamilton. “I wanted to come back into the weekend feeling better and getting straight on it.

“The car, the balance was quite nice straight from the get-go. We made some changes in between the sessions, but unfortunately we didn’t really get to test it.”

The afternoon’s practice session saw mixed weather conditions, obscuring the weekend’s form guide. Hamilton ended the afternoon third fastest behind both Red Bull Racing cars, having all but abandoned running in the “irrelevant” conditions.

“This afternoon I only got a few laps on the Hard tyre, then we stopped because running in the wet is kind of irrelevant when you know that the race is most likely going to be dry.

“The weather was tricky; from the pit lane and on camera it looks like it’s just spitting, but when you’re driving through it, it’s raining a lot everywhere. The surface is quite dark as well, so you can’t really spot if it’s dry or damp.”

On the other side of the Mercedes garage, Valtteri Bottas suffered a poor start to his Hungarian Grand Prix weekend; his free practice one ended after just one lap with a loss of power seeing him limp back to pits, where he would sit out the rest of the session.

Free practice two was of little help to the Finn who was in desperate need of track time; the rain that arrived meant Bottas wasn’t able to get much in the way of representative running, finishing the day fourth with a dry lap-time of 1:18.184.

“During my first timed lap in FP1 I had an issue with the engine where I lost power,” explained Bottas. “The engine went into a safety mode so I had to come back in.

“The team couldn’t find the issue immediately, so we decided to swap the Power Unit for FP2.

“We were hoping for more laps in the afternoon, but the weather conditions meant that I only got three proper timed laps in the dry and a couple in the wet. But at least the car felt good on the few laps I drove it.

“I got a feel for the car balance and an idea of what we need to work on for tomorrow. In the wet, the car felt better than it did last weekend, with a nicer balance and more grip. I’m looking forward to properly starting my race weekend tomorrow.”

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