Opening Practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix topped by Lewis Hamilton.
Future settled for Rosberg, but Hamilton topped the first free practice session of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend. Nico led a majority of the opening 90-minute session. But, when supersoft tyres crept out of the pits, Hamilton took the top spot by two-tenths of a second.
Nico Rosberg signed a two-year extension to his Mercedes contract prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, with the team and driver confirming the deal before FP1 engaged.
The new contract means that both Hamilton and Rosberg are now contracted to the dominant Mercedes team until the end of the 2018 season – which will be Rosberg’s ninth at the Brackley outfit, after joining at the close of the 2009 season.
With his immediate future now secured, Rosberg hoped back into his Silver Arrow for his 126th race weekend for the team – with Nico ending the 90-minute session second fastest.
In the early stages of the opening session, after intermediate tyres were used for installation laps, Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso were contesting the fastest lap honours. With the pair alternating who topped the leaderboard with every lap completed.
First lap times by the pair lingered in the high 1:20s, with Bottas’ 1:28.748 decreasing down to a 1:26.711 as the unused Hungaroring began to rubber in.
When Rosberg first took to the track, however, Bottas and Alonso’s times were being smashed through the first two sectors. But Nico backed out of his lap through the final corner.
Hamilton then set a new benchmark time to edge Raikkonen by two-hundredths of a second with a 1:21.106. Before the Mercedes duo began their joust for the top spot.
The Silver Arrow joust began with Rosberg snatching P1 from Hamilton to lower the fastest lap time into the 1:24s. But Nico’s two-second faster lap time was two-tenths slower than Lewis’ next flyer. A board of purples then followed for Nico on the other hand, as the recently signed German posted a 1:22 – while still on the soft tyres.
With soft tyres, the gap to the nearest non-works Mercedes driver stood at over a second to the Red Bulls. But following the mid-session break that gap extended to nearly two-seconds as the supersoft tyres came out with Mercedes. Red Bull meanwhile opted not to run the red-branded Pirelli compound.
Supersoft running for Mercedes began with Nico lowering the benchmark again, with Rosberg now lapping in the 1:21’s. Likewise did Hamilton, with the reigning champion hunting his championship-leading team-mate overtaking his stable-mate by two-tenths of a second.
Gains on the supersoft tyres stood at over a second for Mercedes. While Hamilton’s fastest time also stood just shy of four seconds faster than his FP1 topping time from a year ago.
While the battle for the top spot was contested by Mercedes alone, Ferrari managed to end the opening session third and fourth fastest. Although the gap between the leading driver of each team stood at 1.6 seconds, with both lapping on the supersofts. For comparison, the leading Red Bull of Ricciardo – with only soft tyre times – was just two-tenths slower than the Ferrari of Vettel.
FP1 also caught out multiple drivers, with Vettel and Alonso among a handful of drivers to spin at the Hungaroring.
The first notable name to be caught out at the Hungarian Grand Prix’s opening session was Fernando Alonso, as the Spaniard ran slightly off line out of the final corner and span on the dirty part of the track.
Vettel then spun at turn 12 before Carlos Sainz ran wide at the same corner. Button span at turn five after losing the rear upon an initial correction. And Kimi Raikkonen managed to hold a twitch out of the final corner in order to prevent a spin in his Prancing Horse.
|14||Carlos Sainz Jr.||27||1:24.579||3.232|