Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton topped the times ahead of Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull in Friday’s second free practice session ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
On an eventful day, just 72 hours after the funeral of Jules Bianchi, Hamilton led the way as the drivers demonstrated their respect for the 25-year-old Frenchman who died last Friday by pulling down their visors and showing total commitment.
In searing heat that reached 50 degrees Celsius on the pit wall, Hamilton, who is seeking a record fifth Formula One win on one of his favourite circuits, recorded a best lap time of one minute and 23.949 seconds to outpace the Russian by 0.351 seconds.
“That was very good fun,” said Hamilton.
“But I cannot tell you how hot it is out there. The heat is so intense. It is like driving in a sauna with this racing suit on, and the thermal underwear, and so hot!
“And it is not easy. This is a challenging circuit and that is how it should be, but it would be good if it is not so hot on Sunday for the race. I feel I must have lost at least a kilo out there in that session.”
Hamilton won at the Hungaroring track in 2007, his debut season in F1, 2009, 2012 and 2013 and, with four wins, has the same total of victories as seven-time champion Michael Schumacher.
The 30-year-old Briton leads his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 17 points in the title race.
Kvyat’s lap was an endorsement of Red Bull’s improved showing on the tight, twisty and technical circuit that suited their car.
His team-mate, Australian Daniel Ricciardo, was half a second adrift to take third ahead of Rosberg, in fourth place.
Asked about seeing the two Red Bulls separating him from Rosberg, Hamilton smiled. “That’s good – the more the merrier!”
– Bianchi tributes –
Rosberg was in a subdued mood, as were many of the drivers in cars and helmets that carried special tributes to Bianchi, after he had continued to struggle for his best form, notably with his brakes.
“Not a good day for me and I was chasing it all the way with under-steer and over-steer, but I can pull it back tomorrow,” said Rosberg.
Ricciardo’s strong performance came in a session that saw him pull off the track with plumes of white smoke pouring from the rear of his car after an apparent engine failure.
The incident caused the session to be red-flagged and halted briefly while the car was cleared out of the way.
Kimi Raikkonen, who had caused a red-flag interruption in the morning session when the front wing of his car fell off, was fifth fastest for Ferrari ahead of Carlos Sainz Junior of Toro Rosso, four-time champion Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari and two-time champion Fernando Alonso who was eighth for McLaren.
The two Williams men, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, were ninth and 10th ahead of Dutch teenager Max Verstappen of Toro Rosso and Jenson Button, the 2009 champion, in the second McLaren.
The day had started with a dramatic morning session that, in addition to Raikkonen’s incident, saw Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India survive unhurt and walk away from a spectacular crash.
The team withdrew him and team-mate German Nico Hulkenberg from the second practice session.
The Lotus team joined the fray in the morning after making a last-hour payment to Pirelli for their tyres. – Agence France-Presse