BUDAPEST: Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel kept Red Bull off the top of the Hungarian Grand Prix practice timesheets on Friday with Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton only fifth fastest for Mercedes.
On a day of mourning for Ferrari, following the death this week of former president Sergio Marchionne, Vettel ended with the quickest lap of one minute 16.834 seconds after Red Bull’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo led the way in the morning with a best of 1:17.613.
Ricciardo was third in a blazing hot afternoon session, behind 20-year-old Dutch team mate Max Verstappen, who was 0.074 slower than Vettel.
Red Bull are expected to be among the favourites at a comparatively slow track that suits the aerodynamic qualities of their car much more than Mercedes, whose drivers seemed to lack grip, and is less engine dependent.
Mercedes have been able to count on more power in qualifying, however.
Ricciardo won from pole in Monaco this year and the Australian took grid penalties in Germany last weekend to give himself the best shot at a circuit sometimes referred to as ‘Monaco without walls’.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in both sessions and compatriot Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s team-mate, was also sixth before and after lunch.
Hamilton is 17 points clear of Vettel in the standings after 11 races, with Sunday’s round the last before the sport’s August break.
The Briton, who has won five times in Hungary but never in a championship year, suffered a big slide into the chicane on the dusty asphalt in the morning.
Amid a somber mood, Ferrari’s team garage and motorhome flew its flag at half-mast and team members wore black armbands in memory of Marchionne, who died on Wednesday at the age of 66. Vettel and Raikkonen also had black bands attached to their cars.
Marchionne, a hugely influential and successful automobile industry leader , died after complications from surgery in Zurich.
Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolf paid a personal tribute.
“We as well are very shocked by events. He was a friend and ally, a great rival and a competitor and will be dearly missed,” Wolf said. “Sergio was a bigger personality than life. In the meetings and in the strategy groups, and in the negotiations with Formula One and the FIA, (he) had the most powerful voice. His shoes are impossible to fill. ... There was only one Sergio Marchionne.”
Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2018