After the excitement of German Grand Prix, F1 arrives at Budapest this weekend for the 11th round of 2014 FIA Formula 1 world championship. The twisty Hungaroring is a high downforce track and one can expect a change in pecking order behind usual pace setters Mercedes.
The FRIC suspension, which was outlawed last week, should show bigger effects on the performance of the cars this weekend at Hungaroring than it did at Hockenheim. Tyre wear and high temperatures will also play a crucial role in deciding the outcome of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Coming to race simulations, Mercedes again had the edge over their rivals with Hamilton and Rosberg the only drivers whose average lap times dipped below 1m:29s. There was very little to choose between the two Mercedes drivers though and qualifying and reliability will remain key in deciding which driver will stand on top step of the podium come Sunday.
Behind Mercedes, expect a Red Bull on the final step of the rostrum. The high downforce Hungaroring plays to the strength of the Austrian team and they will be looking forward to secure a strong result before the summer break. As far as the intra-team battle is concerned, Vettel had the edge over Daniel Ricciardo on the long runs as well as on a single lap.
After the session, Ricciardo admitted that he struggled with grip all day but is confident that setup changes to the car overnight will help him have a positive end to the weekend.
“To be honest we struggled quite a lot today trying to find the grip,” The Australian said. “This circuit does tend to ramp up a lot over the weekend, this morning’s session the grip was really low for everyone and we saw a lot of people sliding.”
“We thought we would find some more this afternoon but we didn’t quite evolve with the track, so we’ve got a bit of work to do tonight to understand that, but that’s what Friday’s are for, you learn, you try things and hopefully you put it all together Friday night in the best way for qualifying.”
Ferrari was a lot far from Red Bull than the long run data might suggest with the Maranello based outfit doing significantly less number of laps on the soft tyre.
Williams simply didn’t appear to have pace this weekend with lack of downforce hurting the Grove based outfit. However, it would be silly to count them out, especially after the big step they took from Friday to Saturday during last week’s German Grand Prix.
Over at McLaren, Kevin Magnussen set the fifth fastest time of the day while Jenson Button was only ninth, complaining about balance of the car on a single lap.
Magnussen, on the other hand, believes McLaren are slightly behind in terms of pace than they were in Germany last weekend. Again, lack of downforce might well be the reason for his perception.
"I may have ended FP2 fifth-fastest, but I think our job is going to be a little more difficult than it was last weekend,” The Dane said. “At Hockenheim, the car’s pace was good enough for the top five, but we’re probably a little bit further behind than that this weekend."
There were contrasting fortunes at Force India with Hulkenberg having a reasonable day while Perez having a difficult time behind the wheels of the VJM07. Both the drivers were well outside the top 10 but were pleased with the long run pace of the Force India.