The sun finally shining today in Hungary, after a few days of low clouds and rain, the sun finally arrived on Friday is expected to remain all weekend, unlike Williams Martini Racing who have lost Felipe Massa due to an inner ear infection.
As Free Practice 3 ended, Paul Di Resta the Williams Reserve driver, who has not driven the 2017 car before is called away from his SKY F1 Presenting job to jump into the race seat vacated by the ill Massa. This is also the first time a British driver has raced in a Williams since Jenson Button in 2000.
Halo has been confirmed by the FIA for fitment to all F1 cars from 2018. An outcry of disappointment from F1 Drivers, Teams and Fans has welcomed this safety measure, but the FIA have decided and stated that it is in the best interest of the sport to protect the drivers. There will also be some tweaks to the Halo before it’s finally placed on the cars, but it is ugly.
Haas has confirmed Grosjean and Magnussen for 2018 while over at Renault, Palmer is still having poor or bad luck, the expected return of Kubica to F1 following his Rally car accident ended his F1 racing career a number of years ago, has again gathered pace as Kubica is set to drive in the F1 Test following the race weekend here in Hungary. With no points scored and poor showing in the FP sessions this weekend which saw him crash twice, Palmer’s days in F1 looked numbered.
Qualifying gets underway with Di Resta out in the Williams, with this his first running the car, it’s a long session to get to know the car and then a change of tyres before setting a qualifying lap time.
Mercedes do not have a comfortable setup this weekend, with Hamilton and Bottas not able to get the power down when they want it, while Ferrari appear to have found a sweet spot in the set up for their cars and find themselves fighting of the Red Bull’s for the top spots today.
Di Resta can only manage P19 on the grid, not bad for man who was expecting to commentate on the race just over two hours ago and then jump into a F1 car he has never driven is a mountain of a challenge, which Di Resta can hold his head high with pride. Also he is P19 and his team mate Stroll is P17, which shows the talent Di Resta has. Could this signal a return to a full F1 driver?
Sauber are out in Q1, but they have better days ahead to come. Well we do have to wait until 2018 to see it, but Sauber has dropped the Honda engine deal for 2018 and signed a new multi-year deal with Ferrari to use the latest spec 2018 engines, the same as Haas and Ferrari will be using, well OK maybe not just the same as the Ferrari team, but this is great news for the Sauber team and everyone in the team is buzzing this weekend with the news.
Honda have the latest spec engine in the McLaren’s this weekend and they are through to Q2, but there is still no news on Alonso staying at McLaren or what engine McLaren will be using in 2018. Today however both McLaren’s are fighting for Q3 appearances and have Toro Rosso, Force India and Renault fighting them for the top ten shoot out.
Vettel is on form and has gone fastest all weekend and now with a 1:16:802 is in P1 with Verstappen, Hamilton and everyone else in the 1:17’s. Ferrari are on form and Vettel can extend his lead this weekend if he wins going into the summer break, but in the final minutes of qualifying anything can and will happen.
Q2 with two minutes to go and only Red Bull, Ferrari and Hulkenberg are sitting in the pits as everyone else is fighting it out on track. Hamilton goes fastest with a 1:16:693, faster than Vettel by 0:109 of a second.
McLaren-Honda are jumping for joy as Alonso is P8 & Vandoorne P9, you would be forgiven in thinking they had won the race, but having both cars in Q3 is triumph for the Woking team. Force India is out along with Palmer in the Renault and Kvyat in the Toro Rosso.
Palmer in the same car as Hulkenberg has again been unable to deliver today, there are no excuses for the lack of performance, no car issues, no crashes, or being blocked, Palmer is unable to extract the performance from this Renault, crunch time at Renault next week, just what will Kubica do in this car during the test next week, could decide who is driving the car in Spa at the end of August.
Q3, Hulkenberg will take a 5 Place Grid Penalty tomorrow for a gearbox change, but Bottas leads the cars out on track as Hamilton’s Mercedes is being checked for running over the kerbs at turn four, has he damaged his floor?
Ricciardo who loves this circuit is out on track and looking to close the gap on his team mate Verstappen or sneak into the top three. Hamilton now out on track, but Bottas goes quickest then a new lap record set by Vettel of 1:16:276, Hamilton pulls off into the pits after losing the rear into turn four.
Alonso is P6 with Verstappen now out on track, leaving only Hamilton and Sainz to set times, with only six minutes to go. A good lap by Verstappen pops him up to P3 ahead of Ricciardo and Raikkonen.
Three and half minutes left in the session and Hamilton is the only car out on track, with the clock counting down, the first to flinch is Hulkenberg, then the rest of the cars start to leave the pits. Hamilton only has one chance today and is on the radio with a vibration from the tyres, fighting it the car in turns two and three, but it needs to be a perfect lap and not able to match the Ferrari of Vettel and is P4 as Raikkonen takes P2 and Bottas can only manage P3.
Ferrari P1 & P2, Vettel and Raikkonen on top form, while Mercedes look to sullen with today’s performance, can they fight back tomorrow, will Hamilton starting on tyres with a vibration hinder his start.
Red Bull lining up right behind the Mercedes, will be hot on the start tomorrow, Verstappen pipped Ricciardo, but what about McLaren both cars in the top ten, could they upset the fight into the first corner tomorrow. We have to wait, but Vettel is not counting his points lead just yet, this is the first Ferrari Pole in Hungary since 2005, the GP is on Sunday and there can only be one winner on Sunday.
1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m 16.276s
2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m 16.444s
3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m 16.530s
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m 16.707s
5. Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m 16.797s
6. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1m 16.818s
7. Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m 17.468s *
8. Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1m 17.549s
9. Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda 1m 17.894s
10. Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1m 18.912s
11. Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m 18.415s
12. Esteban Ocon Force India 1m 18.495s
13. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1m 18.538s
14. Sergio Perez Force India 1m 18.639s
15. Romain Grosjean Haas 1m 18.771s
16. Kevin Magnussen Haas 1m 19.095s
17. Lance Stroll Williams 1m 19.102s
18. Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1m 19.839s
19. Paul di Resta Williams 1m 19.868s
20. Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1m 19.972s
* to take a 5 place grid penalty for Gearbox Change
Colin Logan for In2Motorsports.com