Max Verstappen opened his Hungarian Grand Prix campaign with the fastest time of first practice ahead of Valtteri Bottas.
The Dutchman set his lap in the final 10 minutes of the session, forced to wait until the end of a red flag suspension to collect Yuki Tsunoda’s crashed AlphaTauri, to snatch top spot from the Mercedes by just 0.061.
It was an especially promising result for the Red Bull Racing driver given he was running with the Honda power unit involved in his 51G Silverstone crash two weeks ago to evaluate its viability to remain in his pool. Any serious problem with the motor would have pointed towards a near certain grid penalty later in the season for breaching his engine parts allocation.
Bottas had held top spot for much of the session thanks to a rapid first flying lap on the soft tire. His Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton couldn’t match the Finn with his own first attempt, lapping more than 0.3s off the pace, though he eventually closed the gap to 0.106s with a second attempt on his then worn rubber to secure third.
The Briton would have been doubly punished for stringing together his best lap with his second run, with the track reaching a sizzling 136 degrees F in the 60-minute session, with ambient temperatures hovering just below 90 degrees F.
Carlos Sainz hinted at Ferrari’s ambitions of a strong result with fourth in the order, though the Spaniard was 0.56s off the pace. His teammate, Charles Leclerc, was hampered on his best laps on the soft compound by traffic, leaving him seventh and a further 0.27s adrift at a circuit that should suit his car’s strength tackling slow-speed corners.
Between the red pair slotted AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard overcoming a spin at Turn 9 early in the session that badly flat-spotted a set of the hard tires.
Sergio Perez managed only eighth in the second Red Bull Racing car, lapping 0.911s off his teammate’s benchmark.
Lando Norris was ninth and 1.094s off the pace for McLaren ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll in 10th.
Esteban Ocon was 11th ahead of the crashed Tsunoda. The Japanese rookie had set only 18 laps when his car swapped ends in Turn 4, sending him backwards into the tire barrier in a smash that could heave serious implications for his gearbox.
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Sebastian Vettel was 13th for Aston Martin ahead of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, who was more than 0.6s slower than teammate Norris.
Williams teammate George Russell and Nicholas Latifi were split by just 0.1s in 15th and 16th ahead of Haas driver Mick Schumacher.
Robert Kubica deputized for Kimi Raikkonen to make his third Alfa Romeo free practice appearance of the year, finishing 18th.
Nikita Mazepin was 19th for Haas ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi in the second Alfa Romeo.