Alexander Albon criticised himself for a “silly error” in Free Practice 2 for the Hungarian Grand Prix, giving him plenty of work to catch up on during Saturday morning’s final practice.
Albon’s Scuderia Toro Rosso car hit the wall on the outside of Turn 14, after the Thai driver touched the edge of the grass on turn-in and lost control.
The result was a damaged left-hand side of the car, ending his afternoon after just two laps, and Albon was discharged from the medical centre following precautionary checks.
Albon finished the morning session at the Hungaroring in fourteenth place, one place and nearly 0.2 seconds behind team-mate Daniil Kvyat.
While Albon did not set a time in the dry/wet Free Practice 2, Kvyat finished Friday in tenth position and gained valuable wet weather data for Toro Rosso over 22 laps.
Albon admitted that he had struggled with car balance in Free Practice 1, but had a good idea on what to improve on in the afternoon – plans that were truncated by his “misjudgement”.
“In Free Practice 1 I think we struggled a little bit with the car, but we knew where we needed to improve,” said Albon.
“Coming into Free Practice 2, we made a few changes and we could see straight away, on the couple of laps I did, that it was really positive.
“Unfortunately, I made a mistake at the last corner where I dipped a wheel onto the grass. Honestly, it was a silly error and just a misjudgement.
“It certainly wasn’t ideal, but in some ways, it’s better today than in FP3.
“Let’s see where we will pick up from tomorrow.”
Five days on from his momentous podium finish in changeable conditions at Hockenheim, Kvyat said that it wasn’t a smart idea to push the limits on the intermediate tyres – particularly given Toro Rosso’s unfortunate start to the session.
The Russian still believes that the team has made progress in its understanding of the chosen setup for the technical challenge of the Hungaroring.
“I thought it best not to take extra margins in Free Practice 2 as it wasn’t worth the risk, it was always drizzling and tricky out there with the wet kerbs,” said Kvyat.
“This doesn’t mean it wasn’t a useful session though, as every lap on track is worthwhile.
“The engineers will have quite a bit of data to look at tonight, so hopefully it will help us make progress tomorrow.
“Overall, we did a good job in understanding how the tyres and the setup works, what’s comfortable and what isn’t, just trying to get the car in a better window.
“Tomorrow we will try to put all of it together.”
Chief race engineer Jonathan Eddolls explained that, prior to the weekend, Toro Rosso did not expect to be overly competitive due to typically warm track temperatures and the C4 tyre compound not working well with the STR14.
This meant that the team’s programme revolved around understanding the car’s performance with the tyre, but a cool and drizzly afternoon puts the pressure on the team to make up for lost running in Free Practice 3.