Hungarian Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton was left frustrated with “irrelevant” practice running after being unable to validated Mercedes setups.
The championship leader made the perfect response to his problematic German Grand Prix by topping the opening free practice session ahead of Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel, who were both within two tenths of a second of the Mercedes driver.
A stop-start second free practice session resulted in Pierre Gasly setting the fastest time in the dry before drizzly rain conditions gradually reduced the chances of improving lap times.
Speaking after practice, Hamilton conceded that there was some frustration in an interrupted session, partly due to not being able test additional setups, and partly due to the forecast predicting a dry race.
“FP1 was a good session. 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,” said Hamilton.
“We made some changes in between the sessions, but unfortunately we didn’t really get to test it. 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.”
Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas had a more troublesome day; he was ruled out for the majority of free practice one due to a power unit change, then managed only a couple of dry laps in FP2 before the rain arrived.
“During my first timed lap in FP1 I had an issue with the engine where I lost power. The engine went into a safety mode so I had to come back in,” said Bottas.
“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 in the dry and a couple in the wet. But at least the car felt good on the few laps I drove it.”