Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2016

Red Bull match Mercedes in sector two, Ferrari lack pace everywhere

2016 Hungarian Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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Hopes there would be more than just the Mercedes drivers in contention for victory this weekend were dashed on Friday as none of their rivals got within half a second of their best time.

Esteban Ocon, Renault, Hungaroring, 2016
Hungaroring practice in pictures
Red Bull were able to live with the W06s through the longest sector on the lap – the twisty run from turns four to eleven. But on the less sinuous parts of the circuit Nico Rosberg pulled out six-tenths of a second over Daniel Ricciardo.

Could Lewis Hamilton have found even more? Possibly, but he was caught out by the slippery new entry kerb at turn 11 and put his Mercedes into a barrier. Fortunately for him the damage should not affect him beyond the time lost in the session.

The new surface and kerbs at the track have proved a significant talking point. Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were not impressed by what they found, while Ricciardo suggested it hadn’t changed very much. For Carlos Sainz Jnr, however, the track is like “a completely new circuit” now.

“The new track surface is a big difference compared to previous years,” Nico Hulkenberg agreed. “The bumps that were one of the features of this track are gone and the new Tarmac is really grippy. I think times are already a couple of seconds faster than they used to be.”

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The lap times have indeed been much quicker: 3.5 seconds lower than last year, thanks also to the super-soft tyres being available. If the track surface continues to evolve at the same rate as it did last year then by Q3 Mercedes will be within touching distance of Rubens Barrichello’s 2004 track record of 1’18.436.

Don’t expect the others to be up there with them, however. The aerodynamic upgrades introduced by Mercedes at Silverstone appear to have restored some of their advantage over Red Bull on the tighter circuits.

In Monaco, where Red Bull took pole position, they led the way on Friday. But in Hungary Mercedes look more than a match for them over a single lap and a race stint.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2016
Ferrari lack pace everywhere, says Vettel
As for Ferrari, asked today where they needed to improve Vettel replied “sectors one, two and three”.

“I don’t think that there is one sector that stands out,” he continued. “I am not entirely happy with the balance yet, so naturally if everything comes more together I think we can improve overnight and so we will be better in all three sectors.”

Another consequence of the circuit changes is drivers may find themselves in trouble for running too wide at turns four and eleven. This wasn’t being policed during today’s non-competitive practice sessions but was for GP2’s qualifying session, where some drivers had lap times deleted. Expect more of the same in F1’s qualifying session tomorrow.

McLarne were consistently the fourth-quickest team on Friday but as we’ve seen previously they tend to find less time on Saturdays. Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso are likely to be their competition for a place in Q3.

Haas looked fairly strong on Friday which may put paid to Renault’s hopes of getting beyond Q3. Jolyon Palmer endured a frustrating day after problems with his car limited him to just 18 laps.

“We continued to have a recurring fuel issue,” he said. “We haven’t learnt too much over my side of the garage today but we seem to have got to the bottom of the fuel pressure issue so that’s a definite positive from the hard work.”

Longest stint comparison – second practice

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint. Very slow laps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, right-click to reset:

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Nico RosbergMercedes1’21.5841’20.43579
2Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’23.1741’21.03064
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’21.3471’21.96038
4Sebastian VettelFerrari1’22.9911’21.34853
5Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’23.4571’21.77062
6Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’23.0821’22.05865
7Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’23.9351’22.32849
8Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’23.9611’22.38752
9Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’24.1201’22.44970
10Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’24.0731’22.65367
11Esteban GutierrezHaas-Ferrari1’22.67338
12Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’24.1541’22.68166
13Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Ferrari1’24.5791’22.68951
14Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’24.3701’22.77371
15Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’24.0131’22.86450
16Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Ferrari1’25.3241’22.94859
17Kevin MagnussenRenault1’23.34741
18Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’24.9811’23.43755
19Jolyon PalmerRenault1’28.5601’23.52818
20Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’25.2561’23.98649
21Pascal WehrleinManor-Mercedes1’27.2491’23.99231
22Rio HaryantoManor-Mercedes1’27.0121’24.26559
23Charles LeclercHaas-Ferrari1’25.18122
24Esteban OconRenault1’25.26028

2016 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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6 comments on “Red Bull match Mercedes in sector two, Ferrari lack pace everywhere”

  1. The lap times have indeed been much quicker: 3.5 seconds lower than last year, thanks also to the super-soft tyres being available. If the track surface continues to evolve at the same rate as it did last year then by Q3 Mercedes will be within touching distance of Rubens Barrichello’s 2004 track record of 1’18.436.

    Does anyone else imagine that the 2017 cars may have difficulty matching times from 2016 let alone smashing long established track records? (In general, not just at resurfaced tracks.)

    Vettel said it all in regards to Ferrari this weekend, need to improve in sectors 1, 2 and 3.

    1. ‘Does anyone else imagine that the 2017 cars may have difficulty matching times from 2016 let alone smashing long established track records? (In general, not just at resurfaced tracks.)’

      I don’t think so. The 2016 generation of cars is extracting astonishing levels of performance from a formula with drastic restrictions on aero downforce. Those cars are blindingly fast on the straights, much faster than they need to be to set fast lap times (when comparing different car generations), no matter how much downforce the teams try to create. Performance-wise, the current formula is deliberately quite far from well-balanced cars. By allowing much higher levels of downforce and rear grip, F1 is guaranteed to win at least a couple of seconds per lap on virtually every circuit.
      The 2017 cars will be significantly slower on the straights (which I think is a bit of a shame), but you can very easily compensate a 20 kph deficit in peak velocity (which would add up to a few tenths per lap) with a slightly increased cornering speed, which is the area in which the current cars are the least efficient.

      Long story short:
      Adding more aero to the equation will invariably produce significantly faster lap times, because the current formula has much more straight line speed but far lower cornering speeds than needed to achieve fast lap times.

    2. sunny stivala
      22nd July 2016, 19:34

      1.8 seconds lap is possible in qualifying.
      FERRARI hardly did/managed any qualifying laps today
      red bull tyre degradation (Verstappen) was almost twice as much to get within half a second of rosberg’s pace, not looking good.

      1. Lewis moaning about the track after he crashed was interesting…no other driver slammed into the tyre wall? same track for everyone

  2. One more thing: Bottas and Sainz were both given reprimands for entering the pit lane incorrectly during practice. Sainz is now one reprimand away from a three-place grid penalty:

    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2016-f1-season/statistics/penalties-index/

  3. What on earth is happening to Ferrari,it would be great to see them challenging for wins & titles,sadly it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon:-(

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