Bottas leads Mercedes 1-2 in second Hungarian GP practice

Bottas leads Mercedes 1-2 in second Hungarian GP practice

Valtteri Bottas edged teammate Lewis Hamilton to the best time of FP2 at the Hungarian Grand Prix on a strong afternoon for Mercedes.

The Finn’s fastest time on the soft tire — a 1m17.012s — was just 0.027s quicker than Hamilton’s best effort thanks to purple splits in the first two sectors, surrendering time only in the final third of the lap.

Title leader Max Verstappen was third and 0.298s off the pace. The Dutchman struggled badly with balance in his Red Bull Racing machine with both the soft and the medium compounds.

The track was extremely hot for the start of the hour-long session, sizzling at 144 degrees F, which made tire preparation key to extracting consistent performance from the Pirelli rubber. In the trying conditions Verstappen completely abandoned his soft-tire run for the severity of understeer, and the same problem re-occurred around eight laps into his race simulation on the medium compound.

Mercedes unsurprisingly therefore demonstrated substantially stronger race pace during the long-run simulations, though the team wasn’t totally immune from the conditions. Hamilton had a snap of oversteer through Turn 11 late during his medium run, reporting that his left-rear tire had run out of grip, though the Briton managed to continue his program regardless.

Esteban Ocon was fourth for Alpine, 0.747s off the pace but 0.065s quicker than Sergio Perez in the second RB16B.

Pierre Gasly was strong again to take sixth, albeit more than 1.1s off the pace. He headed a tight midfield group down to 13th split by just 0.6s.

Alpine’s Fernando Alonso followed ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who started the session strongly to retain eighth by the end of the hour, and McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Lance Stroll rounded out the top 10 for Aston Martin, keeping at bay Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, the pair slipping down the order after a more promising first practice session more in line with the team’s lofty expectations at the slow-speed circuit.

Daniel Ricciardo was 13th in the second McLaren, 1.7s off the pace and more than 0.4s slower than teammate Norris.

Kimi Raikkonen returned to the cockpit he yielded to Alfa Romeo reserve Robert Kubica in first practice to post the 14th-quickest time, 2.2s off the pace, to beat Williams pair George Russell and Nicholas Latifi.

Yuki Tsunoda spent 58 of the 60 minutes in his garage after a crash in FP1 forced his team to replace most of the rear end of his car, including the gearbox. The Japanese rookie had time enough to set a single flying lap on soft tires to slot into 17th.

Haas teammates Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin were 18th and 20th, sandwiching Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi.