FP1: Verstappen pips Mercedes duo in opening practice

FP1: Verstappen pips Mercedes duo in opening practice, F1 Daily

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Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen ended the opening practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix on top, edging the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

Following his 51G crash at the British Grand Prix, Max Verstappen rolled out in an F1 car for the first time in the opening practice in Budapest. Despite the crash requiring a hospital visit, the Dutch driver seemingly did not have any physical problems, setting the benchmark in the early part of the session on the Hard compound.

Of the top drivers, the Mercedes duo became the first to head back on to the 4.3km Hungaroring track on the red-walled soft compound. Valtteri Bottas found a big improvement on the C4 compound, jumping comfortably to the top of the standings. His team mate Lewis Hamilton completed two hot laps on the soft rubber with his second one proving the quicker, but he was unable to usurp the lead from his Finn team mate.

Red Bull followed a different programme to most of the teams with the Milton Keynes outfit opting for a second run on their used set of Hard tyres. When most of the field ran on the C4 compound, Red Bull was still eager to finesse their cars on the white-walled rubber.

When Red Bull also rolled out on the soft compound, Verstappen was able to beat the Bottas’ benchmark, albeit his lap of 1m17.555 was only half a tenth of a second quicker than the Finn’s previous best lap. While the Dutchman excelled on the red-walled compound, his team mate Sergio Perez was also a second slower, ending up ninth fastest.

Ferrari was expected to go well around the twisty Hungaroring which the Italians managed to do in the opening session. While Charles Leclerc was the faster driver on the Hard Pirelli rubber, it was Carlos Sainz to finish higher up in FP1. The Spaniard set a time of 1m18.115 to go fourth fastest with his Monegasque team mate setting the seventh best lap time.

Along with Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo racke dup the highest number of laps in the first session, although the Australian was unable to finish higher up than P14. His Bristol-born team mate Lando Norris completed a more impressive session, clocking in the 9th fastest lap time.

The session was red-flagged with 18 minutes remaining when rookie Yuki Tsunoda suffered a Turn 9 spin and compounded that with a Turn 4 off. The Japanese driver ended the session in P12 with his best time just under six tenths of a second slower than the benchmark set by his team mate Pierre Gasly, who completed an impressive session, ending up fifth fastest.

Alfa Romeo’s stand-in Robert Kubica took over for Kimi Raikkonen in FP1 and finished 18th, behind him Haas’s Nikita Mazepin. Antonio Gionvinazzi ended up in the lasp position, having been confined to the garage for much of the session with a technical issue.

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